STEFAN SAGMEISTER + LOBMEYR
10.14.2021 – 12.09.2021
Les Ateliers Courbet is pleased to present Stefan Sagmeister’s ‘Beautiful Numbers’; the designer’s latest body of work that presents an uplifting message illustrating positive trends pulled from selected data records in civic and environmental history. The ensemble on view at the New York gallery from October 14 – December 9, 2021, includes works on canvas, a film, and a series of hand-painted tumblers in collaboration with Viennese family-owned glass manufacturer J.&L. Lobmeyr. Stefan Sagmeister is a New York-based designer of Austrian origins whose philosophically driven, ontological, and innovative design vocabulary has earned him international recognition.
Created throughout 2020, during the worldwide pandemic and socio-political tensions, ‘Beautiful Numbers’ considers how, despite media’s depictions of doom and pessimism, many facets of human life have improved over the past century. Informed by Harvard psychologist and public intellectual Steven Pinker’s book ‘Enlightenment Now’, which urges us to step back from the immediacy of the news cycle and examine the progress of humanity on a larger time scale, Sagmeister visualizes positive trends in the trajectory of mankind. Sagmeister looks at data — from the number of females in Parliament to literacy levels, to suicide rates — and visualizes them by transforming 19th Century genre paintings, embroidered canvases, lenticular prints, and hand-painted water glasses with innovative graph forms to represent the progress made in recent history.
For Sagmeister, ‘Beautiful Numbers’ is emblematic of how the long-term approach he cultivates in his design practice alters perceptions from the here and now to a longer arc of history. “Short-term media like Twitter and hourly news create an impression of a world out of control, with democracy in peril, ubiquitous conflicts, and an overall outlook of doom. But if we look at developments concerning the world from a long-term perspective – the only sense making way – almost any aspect concerning humanity seems to get better. Fewer people go hungry, fewer people die in wars and natural disasters, more people live in democracies – and live much longer lives – than ever before. 200 years ago 9 out of 10 people could neither read nor write, now it is just 1 out of 10.”
The multimedia exhibition will include a selection of works on canvas, a film, and the hand-painted water glasses Sagmeister created with the Viennese family-owned glass manufacturer, J. & L. Lobmeyr. In the artist’s second collaboration with Lobmeyr, the centuries-old craftsmanship mastery of Lobmeyr merges with the timeless design inclinations of Sagmeister to create a series of glasses that depict positive or neutral data visualizations of environmental developments from recent history. The series is composed of eight botanical illustrations by Raxenne Maniquiz which are hand-painted on No. 4 Beer Tumblers by artisans at Lobmeyr.