Robert Collins: Simple Design

When not processing, researching, or blogging about the WAM archival collection, I try to take some time to visit other museums - which I did this afternoon to view the Walker Art Center's new exhibit, Graphic Design: Now in Production. The exhibit features the vast changes in design over the course of the past ten years. After my visit, my attention again returned to the WAM Files only to find that 58 years ago on this very day, November 5, 1953, a display of graphic designs and other works by Robert Collins, then assistant professor of design at the University, opened at the University Gallery.

A U News Service Press Release from October 26, 1953 (Digital Conservancy) describes the exhibition:

"The show covers Collins' work since 1943. It includes paintings, caseins, drawings, textile and graphic designs and some illustrations and decorative drawings done for Ford Motor company publications."


Two exhibit photographs were included in the folder titled, "Bob Collins" contained in Box 4:

hallway of art
Hallway of art

Correspondence between Ruth Lawrence, Gallery Director, and Collins reveal details of exhibit planning:

Yellow paper full of text
white paper full of text
Robert Collins cover

In the catalog produced for the exhibit, Collins comments, "I would defeat my own purpose, here, if I continued to recount the complexities and intricacies of picture making, and of designing. No matter to what degree such involvements complicate the achievement of a coherent statement, the process remains essentially unchanged and fundamentally simple. One selects and puts together lines, shapes and colors."

After viewing the complexities and intricacies of designing of the past ten years this morning, encountering Collins' 1953 exhibit and simple statement this afternoon - is simply appreciated.

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is a graduate student in the Master of Liberal Studies program at the University of Minnesota, completing a minor in Museum Studies. She also serves as a Visitor Services Assistant at the Weisman Art Museum.

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