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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–January 3, 2020


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