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Poster, David Bowie 1976-84

This is a Poster. It was designed by Non-Format and published by Non-Format. It is dated 2010 and we acquired it in 2012. Its medium is screenprint on paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

For the 10th anniversary of their design firm Non-Format, Kjell Ekhorn and Jon Forss self-published a limited edition set of posters celebrating the work of music icon, David Bowie. The project was inspired by a text written by one of Bowie’s famed record producers, Brian Eno. The piece, titled “Axis Thinking” and published in his 1996 book, A Year with Swollen Appendices, Eno argues that by looking at something on a spectrum of two extremes—an axis—one can find undiscovered areas within an already familiar creative endeavor.
For Eno, axis thinking was a method that could be used in the music studio. Non-Format utilized axis thinking to retrospectively examine the musical output of David Bowie. They categorized each of David Bowie’s albums against idiosyncratic and arbitrary extremes. The album Scary Monsters, in their estimation, was more “Bridge” than “Tunnel” and more “Scissors” than “Rock,” while the album Station to Station was more “Fight” than “Flight” and more “Heart” than “Head.” To visually communicate these classifications, Non-Format used icons of mixers and sliders (echoing the equipment Eno might have used in the recording studio) to “describe each Bowie album within Non-Format’s own framework of extremes.” The project resulted in two posters representing Bowie’s musical albums. The first covers the years 1969–75 and is printed in gold on black paper. This poster is the second, which encompasses the years 1976–84 and is printed in silver on black paper. The posters were featured in the Communication Arts 2011 Design Annual.
This work is part of a larger gift proposed for acquisition from Non-Format. The gift in its entirety would offer an overview of the firm’s work from 2006 to 2010, allowing the museum to showcase their evolving practice. An impression of this poster was included in the 2011 exhibition, Graphic Design: Now in Production.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Less Ziggy, More Stardust.

This object was donated by Non-Format. It is credited Gift of Non-Format.

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Its dimensions are

101.8 x 66.2 cm (40 1/16 x 26 1/16 in.)

Cite this object as

Poster, David Bowie 1976-84; Designed by Non-Format; Norway; screenprint on paper; 101.8 x 66.2 cm (40 1/16 x 26 1/16 in.); Gift of Non-Format; 2012-12-4

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Poster, David Bowie 1976-84 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=5 February 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>