If you were tearing into the NY Times yesterday to get to everyone’s favorite annual Year in Ideas magazine feature, you may have missed the sad news that Mildred Constantine, a former curator at the Museum of Modern Art and one of the greatest champions of graphic design, passed away last week. Constantine is one of the major reasons poster design is taken seriously today and enjoys such a following, as she championed the then-overlooked elements of design, both with posters and other materials, during her time at the MoMA in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, as well as continuing to push for contemporary design as a necessary thing to collect, research, and appreciated well beyond her retirement. Here’s a bit from Steven Heller‘s terrific tribute to her:
Her groundbreaking 1968 exhibition, “Word and Image,” was the first at the museum to consider seriously the major 20th-century posters in the Modern’s collection. The exhibition catalog, which she edited, is still an important document of poster history.
“Part of the fun of this exhibit was filling in where we were lacking,” she once explained.
Nonetheless, she seemed proudest of the system of preservation she borrowed from the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam: hanging posters rather than rolling them in tubes, which was not the safest method.