Previously at the ICA - Events

Photo credit: Frans Masereel, The City © DACS 2017

Symposium: Frans Masereel

29 Jun 2017

To accompany the exhibition in the ICA Upper Gallery, this evening symposium will explore the work and influence of Belgian graphic artist Frans Masereel. Building on the wealth of knowledge at the University of Reading’s Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, the event will include discussions around archival display, the evolution of graphic narratives, and connections to society and politics. Speakers include Christopher Burke, Elizabeth Hobbs, Eric Kindel and Rick Poynor


  • 6:30 - 6:40 Introduction to the exhibition

    An ICA Curator introduces the Frans Masereel exhibition.

  • 6:40 - 6:50 Exhibiting graphic works at the University of Reading: Eric Kindel

    The University of Reading has long collected graphic works, artefacts and ephemera to support teaching, research, exhibitions and publishing, and its holdings are now extensive. This talk offers observations on student-staff collaborative exhibition projects in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication that introduce students to the challenges of curating, displaying and explaining graphic works in the University’s collections, including those of Frans Masereel. 

  • 7:00 - 7:20 Masereel and ‘sociological graphics’: Christopher Burke

    Frans Masereel’s woodcuts for The City were included in a collection of ‘sociological graphics’ made at the Viennese Museum of Society and Economy in the late 1920s. There, together with prints by contemporaries such as Gerd Arntz and Georg Grosz, it formed a background to the development of a method of pictorial statisticslater known as Isotypewhich still exerts an influence on the design of public information today. This talk considers Masereel’s work in that context and examines intersections of art and graphic design in the early twentieth century. 

  • 7:30 - 7:50 Masereel and the Graphic Narrative: Rick Poynor

    Using the traditional medium of the woodcut, Frans Masereel devised narratives of great sympathy and emotional power. Tales such as The City, Passionate Journey, The Idea and Story without Words were models of economical graphic expression that retain the capacity to enthral. Showing examples by both Masereel and other artists, this talk considers his legacy for the wordless visual narrative and the contemporary graphic novel. 

  • 8:00 - 8:20 Artist Elizabeth Hobbs

    Elizabeth Hobbs will speak about the contemporary artistic influence of Masereel’s work in relation to her practice, in particular in connection to her short film, Imperial Provisor Frombald (2013). The film depicts the true story of Imperial Provisor Frombald, an administration official from Belgrade, who unwittingly became the author of the first documented testimony of the exhumation of suspected vampire Peter Plogojowitzm in 1725. The film is made from hand-carved rubber stamps printed directly onto 35mm film, then scanned and assembled in Final Cut Pro. The aesthetics were inspired by Masereel’s work.

  • 8:20 - 9:00 Discussion

    A group discussion with the symposium speakers, who will be accepting questions from the audience. 


  • Christopher Burke

    Christopher Burke is a typographer, typeface designer and design historian. He is Principal Research Fellow in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading. He co-edited Isotype: design and contexts, 1925–1971 (2013), and History of the Monotype Corporation (2014). 

  • Elizabeth Hobbs

    Elizabeth Hobbs is a visual artist based in East London. Though her background is in printmaking and artist’s books, for the last 16 years she has been making animated films, which have won many awards. A part of Elizabeth’s work is creating participatory animated films and devising visual art projects with young people and community groups. She also lectures in animation at Anglia Ruskin University. More information can be found at Elizabeth Hobbs's official website

  • Eric Kindel

    Eric Kindel is a designer, editor, design historian and Professor of Graphic Communication in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading. He is co-editor of the book series Typography Papers, co-edited Isotype: design and contexts, 1925–1971 (2013), and has recently published a study of mid twentieth-century graphic information in the magazines Future and Fortune

  • Rick Poynor

    Rick Poynor is a writer, lecturer and curator. He is Professor of Design and Visual Culture in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading. In 1990, he was founding editor of Eye magazine and, in 2003, he co-founded the Design Observer website. His articles have appeared in Print, Blueprint, Icon, Creative Review and other publications. His books include Typographica (2001), Obey the Giant: Life in the Image World (2001), No More Rules: Graphic Design and Postmodernism (2003), Jan van Toorn: Critical Practice (2008) and Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design (2010).

In partnership with University of Reading, Department of Typography & Graphic Communication


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E.g., 29-07-2021