Last year the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk held a large exhibition entitled Fête funèbre. The participating artists presented their reflections on the subject of death. We were invited to design the catalog for the exhibition, which we were very happy to do. Gloomy subject notwithstanding, as we might have mentioned already, catalogs are the best things to design, barring none.
The catalog includes profiles of all the artists with the presentation of their work and also two academic articles on the representations of death in the history of art, all of the texts both in Polish and in English. So the layout needed to be flexible enough to include all these elements. As it was also the first stage of our work on the guidelines for future publications, it needed to be quite orderly and consequent.
We wanted to reflect the somber tone of the exhibition but without making the whole thing depressing, so we chose to use a lot of black offset by a (quite lovely, really) warm-silver metallic color and red accents. This limited color palette created a good background for the presentation of the varied works. We used the symbol of the dagger, traditionally used in biographic notes to mark the time of death, and thick frames that are also sometimes used to mark the names of the deceased. We also chose somewhat decorative serif typography for the titles.
The dust cover turned out quite lovely, thanks to printing techniques that the photo does not do justice. What looks here like dull beige is actually the same metallic color, combined with matte silver hot-stamping on the texts and the frame.
Silver hot-stamping, but not the shiny kind.
The cover under the dust jacket uses reversed colors and no text. The flowers have also lost their heads.
Title page, with the dagger ornament on the left.
Close-up of the ornament, in red and silver – probably the most lively bit of the design (the pun was truly not intended but, oh well).
Close-up of the names of the participating artists (the frame used in its traditional function).
The exhibition was held in the unusual architecture of the Academy’s exhibition space and most photos that were used were taken on the spot, which gives the whole catalog a unique feeling.
Most photographs by Bartosz Żukowski.
Paintings by Beata Ewa Białecka.
More sculptures by Mariusz Białecki.
How could we resist the use of red thread? We never do.
The two languages are set side by side in two columns, Polish in black and English in silver.
A spread from one of the scientific articles.
Despite the inherent melancholy of the subject matter, the catalog was true joy to work on (and to see the final result when we got our copies).