2017

Matisse in the Barnes Foundation

— Abbott Miller

Book Design Prize


 

Matisse in the Barnes Foundation
Among its extraordinary masterworks of Post-Impressionist and early Modernist art, the Barnes Foundation contains one of the most significant holdings of Matisse in the world. The museum played a pivotal role in the artist’s career: Dr. Albert C. Barnes, the founder of the Barnes, was Matisse’s most serious American collector and in 1932 commissioned the painter to create the mural “The Dance” for the Foundation’s main gallery, leading to an important new phase of work. Abbott Miller and his team have designed “Matisse in the Barnes Foundation,” a landmark three-volume set that is the first authoritative publication to document this remarkable collection in full.
 The massive 894-page book was a major undertaking by the Foundation. Edited by the art historian Yve-Alain Bois, a noted Matisse expert, it encompasses every piece by the artist in the museum’s collection—59 works from every stage of his career—each represented with a full-color image of the work, a photograph of the piece installed in the museum, and detailed interpretive analysis that tell the story of its acquisition and critical reception. The book also features essays on what Barnes thought of Matisse, how and why he collected his work, and the latest findings on Matisse’s techniques.
 Color was essential to Matisse’s art, and Miller’s design utilizes a brilliant palette inspired by the artist to create a lively and engaging framework for a work of serious scholarship. To accommodate the size of the collection, the book has been divided into three volumes housed together in a slipcase. The hardcovers and the slipcase are each a different color, taken from Matisse’s “Le Bonheur de vivre,” an important Fauve painting at the Barnes. The fore-edges of the books are also printed with color, and inside, select pages are printed on the full spectrum of Favini Italian papers.


Abbott Miller
Abbott Miller has evolved a design practice that crosses from page to screen to interior environments and objects. Embracing the role of editor, writer, and curator in many of his exhibitions and publications, he has used design as a way of exploring and interpreting art, architecture, public space, performance, fashion and design. Before joining the New York office of Pentagram as a partner in 1999, he founded the pioneering multidisciplinary studio Design/Writing/Research.
Miller has created identities, exhibitions, books and websites for clients including the Barnes Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harley-Davidson, Sotheby’s, and Vitra. Since 1997, as editor and designer of 2wice, he has created a dramatic body of work devoted to performance and visual art in a series of award-winning publications and apps that have pioneered new platforms for dance.
Miller has brought a consistently imaginative approach to book design in projects with Nam June Paik, Matthew Barney, Yoko Ono, Diller + Scofidio, and Geoffrey Beene, and has written about design in his own books, including Design/Writing/Research, The ABC’s of ▲■●: The Bauhaus and Design Theory, and Abbott Miller: Design and Content. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
In 2014, Miller was awarded the profession’s highest honor, the AIGA Medal, in recognition of his distinguished achievements and contributions to the field.