Christiana Couceiro


While we’re on the subject of modernist collage in the current day, let me give big props to Ms. Christiana Couceiro. I’m not sure where I first saw a link to her stuff at Seven Days, but it looks like art director/design curator superstar Steven Heller caught on too. She made the cover for the last issue of the New York Times Book Review (3.19.09) story on Barthleme and I sincerely doubt it’s the last we’ll be seeing her. Her colors and compositions are remarkable, and she’s both high-modern and refreshingly contemporary at once.



Some more pics and thoughts after the jump. Bunches more at her site.




Some precedents/influences — noted in further enthusiasm and not in any way to lessen her awesomeness:

Fotografía Pública. One of my favorite design books ever, has a ton of examples in color of modernist photography and photocollage. Her consistent use of the color of aged paper as  backdrop to her collages brings these to mind. [Available for a mere $30? Readers, this book is worth far more than that!]

El Lissitsky. Though there’s plenty of examples of modernist photomontage to choose from (Heartfield, Schwitters and Hoch come to mind) it’s this use of layering photos, type and geometric elements on top of one another rather than side by side that reminds me most of Couciero’s work. Layering is funny; these days, with Photoshop, it’s easy to do. But it’s hard to do beautifully.

Herbert Bayer. Especially the poster Paula Scher famously homaged/ripped. It’s the color on top of B&W photography and exciting diagonals that make me think of this modernist gem.

Chip Kidd — and here’s where I think her work is really contemporary feeling. Her croppings and choices of overlapping subject matter is visually lovely; I can’t help but think of it as working much like a Chip Kidd cover — like his Matthew Stadler ones especially though he does some similar tricks with Murakami and lots of others. Vintage photos treated unusually, overlaid with graphs and accompanied by limited color.
Chip Kidd's covers for Matthew Stadler's Dissolution of Nicholas Dee and The Sex Offender. Apologies for the iPhone pictures, but this is one of those rare cases where the internet doesn't seem to have a picture available. So here ya go, Google Image Search. Use this one.
Chip Kidd’s covers for Matthew Stadler’s Dissolution of Nicholas Dee and The Sex Offender. Apologies for the iPhone pictures, but this is one of those rare cases where the internet doesn’t seem to have a picture available, not even Book Cover Archive. So here ya go, Google Image Searchers. Use this one.

In fact now that Heller has her on his speed dial and the vintage paperback meme is ongoing, I feel it’s only a matter of time before we see her remix of paperbacks as real covers on store shelves. I can’t wait.


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