Belles Lettres

The Art of Typography
October 30, 2004–April 17, 2005

Literally “beautiful letters” in French, the term belles lettres aptly describes works of graphic design in which typography plays an aesthetic role, elevating print communication to the realm of art. This exhibition explores contemporary type treatment, looking at how designers employ contrast, scale, layering, and formal manipulation to reiterate and transform content. Drawn entirely from the SFMOMA collection, Belles Lettres presents posters, magazines, brochures, and books by boundary breaking artists such as Saul Bass, Michael Bierut, Gail Swanlund, Thonik, and Martin Venezky.

Belles Lettres: The Art of Typography is generously supported by an anonymous donor.

Jack Stauffacher, Vines Going Mad, from The Vico Portfolio, 2003; collection SFMOMA; Accessions Committee Fund, purchase Jack Stauffacher