Lester Beall: Finding Clarity in Complexity, and Vice Versa

As a graphic designer here at LACMA, I was excited to see the works of Lester Beall—in my opinion one of the U.S.’ greatest graphic designers—go on view through May 31.

Beall was someone I call a true modernist—with a twist. On the one hand he lived by the credo “form follows function.” On the other, he allowed himself the joy of working with color and pattern. He spurned symmetry, which in his mind contradicted the dynamism of contemporary life, and was well known for bold, imaginative, and yet always radically simple graphics.


He once said that a graphic designer “must work with one goal in mind—to integrate the elements in such a manner that they will combine to produce a result that will convey not merely a static commercial message, but an emotional reaction as well.” This oneness of message is apparent in the series on display at LACMA. Here concept meets form in the most exquisite way.


To me, Beall was also a great translator of European avant-garde graphic design into American modernism. I love the boldness and simple complexity of his posters that always look as if they have designed themselves. I also love his use of pattern and contrast that make his work full of life yet never overdone.


What amazes me, and what I think visitors will discover in this installation, is the timelessness of his pieces and how much we can all still learn from them. By “we,” I mean graphic designers as well as the public and potential clients, who so often don’t understand the importance and power of visual communication.

Maja Blazejewska, Graphic Designer

One Response to Lester Beall: Finding Clarity in Complexity, and Vice Versa

  1. […] and brash, with dynamic, simple lines activating the rather banal imagery. For more info check out Unframed’s post on the […]

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