When you think of it, words get in the way of appreciating typography. You find yourself reading what’s said and paying scant attention to the characters from which the words are composed. In fact, idiosyncratic typefaces can be distracting and irritating if you are trying to read long passages. Type should affect the reader on a subliminal level, adding to the reader’s enjoyment, not stressing the eyes or competing for the reader’s attention. But as graphic forms, typefaces can be beautiful, elegant, whimsical, futuristic, historic, geometric, sculptural, and even funny, if you count Comic Sans. Used as a design element, quirky fonts can add a lot of spice to a page.
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Typography has always figured prominently in the work of American conceptual artist Barbara Kruger, never more so than in this installation at the temporary Stedelijk in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Kruger’s work is part of the series of “Taking Place” exhibitions, hosted by the museum to allow contemporary artists to express themselves in innovative and experimental ways in the unfinished space of the Stedelijk.
For her art installation, Kruger chose the museum’s largest gallery, the Hall of Honor, and wrapped the floor and walls with text printed at a monumental scale. The aphorisms set forth are emotion-charged, powerful and in-your-face unavoidable.
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