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Opens at The Jewish Museum
March 15, 2013
First Exhibition by Innovative Designers Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh
New York, NY – The designers Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh are known for their experimental typography and striking visual imagery. Six Things: Sagmeister & Walsh, on view at The Jewish Museum from March 15 through August 4, 2013, marks the first exhibition of their newly minted design firm Sagmeister & Walsh. For the last ten years, Sagmeister has researched the nature of happiness, asking, “Is it possible to train my mind in the same way I can train my body?” In five short films and a sculpture, the studio investigates six things, culled from Sagmeister's diary, that he believes have increased his personal happiness such as: “Now Is Better” and “If I Don’t Ask I Won’t Get.” In addition, intrigued by a recent nationwide survey in which Jews reported the highest levels of well-being of all religious groups, Sagmeister & Walsh are placing a text in the gallery that connects this scientific data to his personal exploration of happiness.
Before this partnership, Stefan Sagmeister was already taking an unusual approach to design. He has created signature album covers for Lou Reed, Talking Heads, the Rolling Stones, and OK Go, and others, and executed indelible ad campaigns for major companies such as HBO and Levi’s. In an iconic 1999 poster for the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), he incised type into the skin of his naked torso like a tattoo. At the contemporary art gallery Deitch Projects in 2008 he stacked 10,000 bananas against a wall. Unripe green bananas among the yellow ones spelled out the rallying sentence, “Self-confidence produces fine results.” The legibility of the text fluctuated as the fruit turned from green to yellow to black over the course of the exhibition.
To stimulate his own creativity Sagmeister has gone on regular sabbaticals since 2000, traveling and investigating ideas. Over the last decade he has delved into the nature of happiness. Inspired by the psychologist Jonathan Haidt, whose research connects spiritual wisdom with modern science, Sagmeister developed an intensive regimen of meditation, cognitive therapy, and mood-altering drugs as an experiment in self-discovery. From this emerged a forthcoming documentary entitled The Happy Film and from that The Happy Show, a traveling exhibition and its accompanying publications, organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.
Six Things is a continuation of this project on happiness, in which Jessica Walsh has been an integral partner. In five compelling short videos and a sound-activated sculpture, Sagmeister & Walsh examines six things culled from Sagmeister’s diary that he believes have increased his personal happiness:
If I Don’t Ask I Won’t Get
Keeping a Diary Supports Personal Development
Be More Flexible
It Is Pretty Much Impossible to Please Everyone
Now Is Better
Feel Others Feel
Sugar cubes, bubbles, and water balloons are just some of the materials used to spell out the phrases. The ambiguous connections between the six epigrams and the objects of which they are composed are left for visitors to decipher, a provocative game based in the pleasure of looking.
A text in the Six Things exhibition gallery connects this scientific data to the personal exploration of happiness. It notes: “According to a recent nationwide survey, Jewish Americans report higher levels of happiness than all other major faith groups in the country. This finding is based on more than 676,000 interviews conducted in 2010–11 for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Within each faith surveyed, very religious members are happier than their nonreligious counterparts. For example, observant Jews are generally happier than secular Jews. But a higher proportion of practicing members does not predict greater well-being for the faith. Interestingly, though Jews are among the least religious faith groups in America, with only 16.9% identifying themselves as very religious and 53.5% as secular, they still appear to be the happiest. The Well-Being Index does not definitively say that religious observance leads to greater happiness. It does note that belief in a higher power, prayer, acts of charity, and neighborly love can promote a sense of belonging; alleviate stress and depression; and lead to a positive outlook on life.”
Six Things: Sagmeister & Walsh has been organized by Rebecca Shaykin, Leon Levy Curatorial Assistant at The Jewish Museum.
Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh are the principals of Sagmeister & Walsh, a New York-based design firm. They have been engaged to create a new graphic identity for The Jewish Museum. Stefan Sagmeister, born in Bregenz, Austria, in 1962, established the design firm Sagmeister Inc. in New York in 1993. He is the recipient of many awards, including two Grammy awards for his packaging designs, the Lucky Strike Designer Award, and an award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Born in 1986 in New York, Jessica Walsh, a multidisciplinary designer, has worked at Pentagram Design and Print magazine and counts The New York Times, AIGA, EDP, Computer Arts, and I.D. magazine among her clients. She was named Computer Arts' Top Rising Star in Design in 2009 and an Art Director’s Club Young Gun in 2010, as well as Print’s New Visual Artist for 2011.
Exhibition Related Program
On Thursday, May 2 at 6:30pm, Stefan Sagmeister will talk about his recent projects including the exhibition, Six Things: Sagmeister & Walsh.
This exhibition is made possible by the Irma L. and Abram S. Croll Charitable Trust. Additional support is provided by StampStampede.org.
About The Jewish Museum
Widely admired for its exhibitions and collections that inspire people of all backgrounds, The Jewish Museum is one of the world’s preeminent institutions devoted to exploring art and Jewish culture from ancient to contemporary. Located at Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street, The Jewish Museum organizes a diverse schedule of internationally acclaimed and award-winning temporary exhibitions as well as dynamic and engaging programs for families, adults, and school groups. The Museum was established in 1904, when Judge Mayer Sulzberger donated 26 ceremonial art objects to The Jewish Theological Seminary of America as the core of a museum collection. Today, the Museum maintains a collection of 25,000 objects – paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, archaeological artifacts, ritual objects, and broadcast media.
The Jewish Museum is located at 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, New York City. Museum hours are Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, 11am to 5:45pm; Thursday, 11am to 8pm; and Friday, 11am to 4pm. Museum admission is $12.00 for adults, $10.00 for senior citizens, $7.50 for students, free for children under 12 and Jewish Museum members. Admission is Pay What You Wish on Thursdays from 5pm to 8pm and free on Saturdays. For information on The Jewish Museum, the public may call 212.423.3200 or visit the website at TheJewishMuseum.org.