Estate 1-127 | Peter Saville, 2007
Joy Division Closer
Album cover proof, 360 x 645 mm
Martyn Atkins & Peter Saville, 1980
Encouraged by seeing Philip Johnson’s 1978 designs for the AT&T building in New York – a skyscraper with a broken pediment – Saville’s design for Closer marked a shift away from an industrial aesthetic towards to one more neo-Classical in character. Making use of what is believed to be one of the earliest forms of serif lettering (2nd century BC) and a photograph by Bernard Pierre Wolff of the Appiani family tomb in the Cimitero Mosumentale di Staglieno, Genoa, Italy, Saville echoed Jan Tschichold’s own late shift away from the utilitarian strictures of his signature work towards a form of neo-Classicism tempered by the austerity of Modernism.
Joy Division Closer
Label proofs, 438 x 230 mm
Martyn Atkins and Peter Saville, 1980
Referencing the design used by the by the classical music company Deutsche Grammophon.
Factory Communications Limited logotype
251 x 160mm
Peter Saville & Brett Wickens, 1981.
Mechanical artwork for the Factory Communications Limited logotype. The letter F can be seen in the head of the calipers, the C in the gear wheel, and the L where the calipers meet the anvil. Like much of Saville’s work at this time, these graphics embodied a mixture of romantic associations. Living in Manchester in the late 1970s and 1980s, the atmospheres evoked by European Modernist aesthetics – whether specific connotations of Futurism, Constructivism or De Stijl or simply for a post-war Europe of faded grandeur and chilly technocratic progress; city names on radio dials (Paris, Berlin, Moscow); cafes filled with radical intellectuals; doomed lovers on the overnight Trans-Europe Express to Vienna; David Bowie recording Heroes in the shadow of the Iron Curtain – seemed both a world apart from the grim, post-industrialist realities of North-West England, and also strangely familiar. For those associated with Factory, the appropriation of European avant-garde imagery was, in Saville’s words, about “changing the here and now instead of going somewhere else”.
295 x 210 mm
Used to specify the ribbon colour for the cover of the posthumous Joy Division album Still, released by Factory Records in 1981.
A Basket of Roses by Henri Fantin-Latour, 1890
Postcard, 105 x 150 mm
Postcard bought by Saville in the gift shop of the National Gallery, London, which inspired the use of Fantin-Latour’s still life for the cover of Power, Corruption and Lies by New Order. Rather than illustrate the album’s Machiavellian-sounding title literally, Saville approached the design with ideas of coding and camouflage in mind. He devised a system in which all the information usually found on a album (such as artist names, titles and credits) could be embedded with code that index-linked numbers and letters to specific colours. Saville combined these encryptions with the shapes found on a floppy disk – an object symbolising not only the latest in computer technology at the time but also another method of information coding. Fantin-Latour’s sumptuous painting, with its association of bourgeois kitsch and establishment taste, worked as a pointed historical counterpoint to the technological ciphers; one that not only suggested institutional deceit and chicanery in a general sense – but in the context of 1980’s Britain, could also be read as a comment on the twinning of rapacious free-market economics with the ultra-traditionalist rhetoric of the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
When Saville first sought permission from the National Gallery to have A Basket Of Roses photographed for the cover, he was told that this would be impossible, as it was currently on loan from the museum. On hearing this, Tony Wilson telephoned the National Gallery, using his journalistic credentials to reach the director of the museum himself. Wilson reportedly asked the leading question “Who actually owns the paintings in the national collection?” to which the director answered “The people of Britain”.”Well, its the people who want it”, replied Wilson.
Peter Saville Estate traces the development of designer, artist and cultural observer Peter Saville, from his groundbreaking work for Factory Records in the late 1970s, through to his most recent explorations of the role played by art and design in the highly commodified, visually hyper-literate 21st century. Peter Saville Estate is not a conventional account of Saville’s professional practice, rather it collects together work, reference material and ephemera from his archive to form an illuminating and highly personal typography of the life and working methods of one of the most influential designers of the last 30 years.
Peter Saville Estate 1-127
Essays by Michael Bracewell and Heike Munder, captions by Dan Fox, Slater Bradley, Liam Gillick, Steven Gontarski, Thomas Grünfeld, Robert Longo, Sarah Morris, Nick Relph & Oliver Payne, Sean Synder, Wolfgang Tillmans, Kelly Walker and T.J Wilcox.
JRP | Ringier
In association with migros museum für gegenwartskunst, Zurich.