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Elevating the Underground

“Underground Images” brings together 70 of the myriad posters created at SVA for display in the vast New York City subway system, offering a glimpse into the history of the College and the collective talent of its acclaimed design and illustration faculty. The exhibition was curated by SVA Executive Vice President Anthony P. Rhodes, who has served as creative director for the posters since 2007.

In the mid-1950s, SVA was at the vanguard of academic institutions pursuing new strategies to attract students. SVA took its message to previously unplumbed depths, to the platforms of the subway system. Its advertising posters were both thought-provoking and eye-catching, featuring the work of legendary artists like Ivan Chermayeff, Milton Glaser and George Tscherny. All practicing professionals on the faculty at SVA, they used the poster commissions to explore the possibilities of graphic art, and to hone their personal voices on a public stage. Like the College itself, SVA's subway posters have become New York City icons, as well as incitements to creativity and risk-taking.

The 38 artists in “Underground Images” include Peter Ahlberg, Gail Anderson, Marshall Arisman, Richard Borge, Chris Buzelli, Gene Case, Ivan Chermayeff, Paul Davis, Pablo Delcan, Sal De Vito, Stephen Doyle, Louise Fili, Audrey Flack, Nathan Fox, Bob Gill, Robert Giusti, Milton Glaser, Phil Hays, Steven Heller, Mirko Ilić, Viktor Koen, Stephen Kroninger, Marvin Mattelson, Clay Patrick McBride, James McMullan, Jerry Moriarty, Tony Palladino, Gary Panter, Edel Rodriguez, Julia Rothman, Jonathon Rosen, Stefan Sagmeister, David Sandlin, Paula Scher, Yuko Shimizu, Eve Sonneman, George Tscherny, James Victore, Robert Weaver and Zipeng Zhu.

“Underground Images” is organized by SVA faculty member Mirko Ilić and Francis Di Tommaso, director, SVA Galleries.

The full collection of posters in the exhibition can be seen in this Flickr gallery.

Exhibition Tour:

Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University, Alabama

August 11, 2020–January 3, 2021

Yeditepe University & Caddebostan Cultural Center, Istanbul, Turkey

February 18–March 8, 2020

National College of Art and Design (NCAD), Dublin, Ireland

January 16–31, 2020

DesignUp, Bangalore, India

November 12–16, 2019

Cage Gallery at Edna Manley College, Kingston, Jamaica

October 9–November 11, 2019

Galerie ABF, Prague, Czech Republic

October 1–31, 2019

Universidad CAECE, Mar del Plata, Argentina

September 26–November 5, 2019

CHAVÓN | La Escuela de Diseño, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

March 16–April 26, 2019

Universidad ORT, Montevideo, Uruguay

February 26–March 22, 2019

HIT Holon Institute of Technology, Holon, Israel

February 26–March 27, 2019

Pixel Show, Pro Magno, São Paulo, Brazil

November 10–12, 2018

MEDIUM Gallery, Bratislava, Slovakia

October 4–28, 2018

IED Istituto Europeo di Design, Italy

October 1–November 30, 2018

National Library of Moldova, Chișinău, Moldova

July 14–September 14, 2018

LA Design Festival, Los Angeles

June 9–10, 2018

designforum Wien, Vienna

March 13–April 22, 2018

De Affiche Galerij, The Hague, Holland

February 1–March 6, 2018

3sec Gallery, Breda, Holland

January 24–April 8, 2018

The Future, RDS, Dublin

November 3–4, 2017

designforum Steiermark, Graz

October 27–November 11, 2017

La Escuela Artediez, Madrid

October, 2017

Bluecadet Gallery, Philadelphia

May 12–June 30, 2017

Design Indaba, Cape Town, South Africa

March 1–4, 2017

A38 Exhibition Space, Budapest, Hungary

November 15–26, 2016

Typopassage Micro Museum, Timisoara, Romania: (Video)

September 16–November 30, 2016

Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland

June 10–24, 2016

Kiosko Gallery, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

March 21–29, 2016

Centre for Creative Arts and Media, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Galway, Ireland

March 2–April 8, 2016

Rosefsky Art Gallery, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York

February 12–March 11, 2016

James Barry Exhibition Centre, Cork, Ireland

December 1, 2015–January 22, 2016

Museo San Francisco, La Paz, Bolivia

November 16–21, 2015

Lisbon, Portugal

November 13–December 20, 2015

Instituto Tom Jobim, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

November 5–December 6, 2015

KDJ convention center, Gwangju, Korea

October 19–23, 2015

AIGA Design Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana

October 8–10, 2015

Pontificia Universidad Católica, Quito, Ecuador

September 23–October 23, 2015

New Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia

May 22–June 28, 2015

The University of Texas at Arlington, Max W. Sullivan Gallery

April 6–27, 2015

KCDF Gallery, Seoul

April 1–21, 2015

International Poster Competition, Skopje, Macedonia

December 7–20, 2014

Sangmyug University, Seoul, South Korea

November 7–13, 2014

MUIP Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey

October 16–November 14, 2014

Golden Bee Moscow International Biennial of Graphic Design

October 7–12, 2014

Villa Méditerranée, Marseille, France: Co-presented by Alliance française des designers (AFD/French Designers Alliance), Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie Marseille (CCI), Moneydesign and Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

July 15–20, 2014

Gallery Izidor Krsnjavi, School of Applied Arts and Design, Zagreb, Croatia: Co-presented by HDD and UBU in conjunction with Dan-D (D-Day)

May 26–June 9, 2014

HOW Design Live, Boston

May 12–16, 2014

Atelier Dado Gallery, National Museum of Montenegro, Cetinje

April 26–May 16, 2014

Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing, China

April 12–May 3, 2014

Knez Mihailova Street, Belgrade, Serbia

April 4–22, 2014

Academy of Fine Arts, Sarajevo: Co-presented by Students Organizing Sarajevo (SOS) Design Festival

October 9–23, 2013

National Museum of Contemporary History, Ljubljana, Slovenia: Co-presented by the Emzin Institute of Creative Production

June 4–July 4, 2013

"SVA Subway Posters: A Half Century of Iconic Graphic Design": Taipei Artist Village, Taiwan

November 4–9, 2006