press release

Quarez' colourful posters seem to ignore the edges of the paper on which they are printed.

Michel Quarez finds his themes in his immediate neighbourhood, the Paris suburb of Saint Denis, with its population overwhelmingly of foreign extraction: integration, protest against a rendering plant in the area, a local swimming pool, the battle against AIDS, loitering youth.

Quarez works at two extremes: his posters are either characterised by a vivid, attention-demanding use of colour in neon-tints of pink, green and yellow, or they are realised as black line drawings on a white background. Initially the colours were in large fields arranged in unexpected compositions on the poster; as time has passed his work has become more painterly. After several otherwise successful posters he decided against continuing to use a computer in producing his work.

Quarez believes the physical movement of a brush on paper is of great importance for his work. He can therefore be seen as a painting designer. Moreover, in most cases his typography is also painted. That he is likewise closely involved in the printing process is made clear by the presence of macules in the exhibition. These sheets, proofs of a sort, are created when the plates must be cleaned before going on to another colour, sometimes produce the most surprising results. Michel Quarez’s active engagement with gay emancipation also emerges from this presentation: he broaches this subject too in vivid colours, as he does the fight against AIDS.

Quarez, born in 1938 in Damascus, had completed his training in Paris at l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs when he worked for a year with Henryk Tomaszewski at the Academy in Warsaw in 1961. After working in advertising he moved to New York, where he developed the comic strip Mode Love. Back in Paris he spent some years as an illustrator, until he began to design posters toward the end of the 1980s. Since then he has received a number of international prizes, including the gold medal at the Poster Biënnale at Toyama in 1991, the Grand Prix National des Arts Graphiques in 1992, an award at the Warsaw Biënnale, and last year the ICOGRADA prize for the black and white posters he made for the Paris suburb Bobigny.

For the graphic design collection at the Stedelijk Museum the posters of Michel Quarez are a fine continuation of the tradition of the French painting poster designers already represented, such as Cassandre, Loupot, Savignac and many others.

Publications A small accordion-fold booklet with black and white work by Michel Quarez, and the poster that was specially designed for this exhibition, are for sale in the Museum Shop.

only in german

Michel Quarez
Kuratorin: Carolien Glazenburg