Norman Ives: Constructions & Reconstructions

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powerHouse Books
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About the Author

After serving five years in the United States Coast Guard, Norman Ives began studies at Wesleyan University. Upon his graduation in 1950, he enrolled in a graduate art program at Yale University. This was the first class to reflect Josef Albers's tectonic restructuring. After graduating, Ives joined the design department faculty and was soon honored as "teacher of the year."

As a quintessential artist, Ives was attracted to graphic design where he might create works that balanced his passion for form with the additional need to reach a broader audience. His elegant symbols are most notable examples of that balance.

Two salient events illustrate the breadth of his work. Ives's eight-foot square painting, Number 3-L, was selected for the 1967 Whitney Annual Exhibition of American Artists. That same year, his graphic design was included in the Museum of Modern Art exhibition titled 3 graphic designers. The two others were Massimo Vignelli and Almir Mavignier.

With former classmate Sewell Sillman, they created Ives-Sillman, Inc., designing, printing and publishing elegant portfolios. Their first portfolio, Homage to the Square, was based on ten paintings of their mentor Josef Albers. Commissions soon came from other major artists.

At his death in early 1978, Ives was distinguished as a fine artist, graphic designer, publisher and teacher. There are few equals.

John T. Hill is a designer, photographer, and author. He has produced books presenting the work of wide-ranging talents, including Walker Evans, W. Eugene Smith, Edward Weston, Erwin Hauer, and Peter Sekaer.