Graphic Design: between Negation and Affirmation in Container Corporation’s Great Ideas Advertising Series, c. 1950-1980
In 1950, the founder and president of Chicago-based packaging company Container Corporation of American, Walter Paepcke, instituted The Great Ideas of Western Man advertising campaign. Intended to bring together contemporary artists and democratic ideals, the campaign was initiated during the rise of the New York School of Abstract Expressionism and the Cold War. The campaign’s organizers’ felt that Abstract Expressionism stood against the principles of the German modernists and design reformers that informed the design team’s approach to advertising. As a result, the Great Ideas advising committee regularly turned to contemporary graphic designers to meet its ends. This paper will think about the graphic designer’s role in this campaign and explore their own cultural position as it played out between the negation of the Abstract Expressionist school (resisting everything outside of its own language and medium) and the affirmation of the Pop artists whom embraced commerce as a field worthy of cultural engagement.
Respondent: Michael Golec, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
The Chicago: City of Commerce and Design, 1890-1990 Seminar is part of Art Design Chicago, an exploration of Chicago’s art and design legacy, an initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art with presenting partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.