pierre bernard: erasmus prize 2006
24 Nov 2006 - 7 Jan 2007
To mark the award of the Erasmus Prize for 2006 to the French graphic designer Pierre Bernard, an exhibition is being mounted in the Sandberg Hall at the Stedelijk Museum CS.
Opening and book presentation: Thursday, November 23, 2006, 5 - 7 p.m.
Over sixty posters and other works will be shown. At the request of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, Bernard designed a special poster for this exhibition. From November 22 through 29 the poster will be seen in Mupis (‘Street Furniture for Publicity and Information’) at various places around Amsterdam.
This year the theme of the Erasmus Prize was ‘Designing for the Public Domain’. In his work Bernard focuses on all aspects of this: communication between authorities and citizens, communication in the public sphere, presentation of current cultural productions and cultural heritage. His whole oeuvre has been marked by the same ethical goal: making various sectors of the public domain accessible.
Throughout his career Bernard (b. Paris, 1942) has worked intensely with others. For him, the design process never can begin without discussion. In 1970, together with Gérard Paris-Clavel and François Miehe (later joined by Jean Pierre Bachollet and Alex Jordan), he formed the designers’ collective Grapus, which aspired to high quality design that also displayed political engagement. Grapus, all members of the Communist Party, believed that their design must contribute to making the world a better place – even though they were fully aware that good design indeed cannot change the world. Their efforts were therefore twofold: improving the message through good graphic design, and undertaking political action. Grapus did the latter by using anti-typography, laying into what was in their eyes bad and pernicious commercial design.
Grapus ceased to exist in 1990. By then it had become a famous agency; its function as a troublemaker had been lost. When the Louvre approached them as a potential client, the collective split up, because some found the Louvre to be too elitist. Bernard on the other hand was of the opinion that through good design one could bring about changes at enormous cultural institutions of that sort.
Bernard founded his own agency, Atelier de Création Graphique, where he works only for non-profit organisations and cultural institutions. According to him, it is not the job of the graphic designer to contribute to the economic growth of businesses. He has a strong distaste for the influence of commercial advertising. Originality, continuity, obvious quality, but also Bernard’s social engagement were factors that contributed to his receiving the Erasmus Prize. On the basis of his oeuvre, but also for having organised international meetings and founded projects, Bernard holds a uniquely authoritative position internationally within the field of graphic design.
Erasmus Prize and presentation
The Erasmus Prize is awarded annually by the directors of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation to a person who, within the structure of European cultural traditions, has made an exceptionally important contribution in the realms of culture, society or the social sciences. The Prize consists of a sum of € 150,000.
The presentation of the prize will take place on Friday, November 24, 2006, in the Noordeinde Palace in The Hague (on invitation only!)
Unveiling the poster
The poster that Bernard designed for the occasion of his exhibition in Stedelijk Museum CS will be unveiled on Wednesday, November 22, by Bernard himself. Further information will follow.
My Work is Not My Work. Pierre Bernard, Design for the Public Domain, author Hugues Boekraad, design Reynoud Homan, publisher Lars Müller. The Dutch and French editions will be available in the Museum Shop after the presentation on November 23, at 5:00 p.m. An English edition will follow.
An article on Pierre Bernard, written by Carolien Glazenburg, curator of graphic design at the Stedelijk Museum, is to be found in the Stedelijk Museum Bulletin nr. 4/5.
November 22: poster unveiling by Pierre Bernard
November 23: symposium on 11 ‘For the Common Good’, see: www.premsela.org.
November 26: symposium ‘Mind the Gap’, see:www.bno.nl/mindthegap.
November 25, 2006 through 21 January 21, 2007: ‘Pierre Bernard: 6 designs, 6 postage stamps’, exhibition at the Museum for Communications,www.muscom.nl
For a listing of all activities and exhibitions, see:www.erasmusprijs.org.
With thanks to
the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation and the City of Amsterdam