Sara Fanelli’s Writing All Over the Tate

By Alissa Walker Comment


When he’s not critiquing design writing, Rick “Don’t Hate the Bloggers, Just Hate the Blogs” Poynor is checking out designed writing, more specifically the hand-lettering that covers the interiors of the Tate Modern. “The writing on the gallery wall,” a web feature on Eye’s site, examines the work of illustrator Sara Fanelli, who hand-wrote (among other things) a 40-meter timeline of modernism that’s sprayed along the gallery walls. While it makes the museum more accessible and certainly more photogenic in general, Poynor’s not sure what goal the installation achieves:

Fanelli’s gallery entrance designs consist of keywords in capitals–authenticity, colour field, anxiety, improvisation, sublime–surrounded by the names of artists found in the gallery: Rouault, Bacon, Dubuffet, Rothko, Asger Jorn, Tacita Dean (these examples are from Material Gestures). The white vinyl letters are applied directly to the dark grey wall (a few are already missing). The names look like signatures, while the concepts are given different graphic emphasis, presumably for the sake of variety, rather than to convey any particular idea. In ‘Existentialism’, Fanelli intersperses small caps with long, spider-like letters; she renders ‘Consciousness’, the smallest keyword in its group, in caps of even height, again for no obvious reason.