Ivan Chermayeff was a distinguished graphic designer, author, illustrator, and collagist. In a career spanning over six decades, his work has been exhibited throughout the world and has inspired generations of design students.
In a partnership with Tom Geismar that spanned 60 years, Ivan produced memorable work in a wide range of mediums. He created over 100 posters announcing prominent television shows, museum exhibitions, and other cultural events, all conceived with an unerring sense of color, form, typography, and visual connections.
From its inception, the firm — now named Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv — has worked closely with architects on large-scale projects. Ivan’s design for the massive steel red 9 that sits on West 57th Street has become a New York landmark, and his “fractured flag” design was a highly visible feature in the U.S. Pavilion at Expo’67 in Montreal. After the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, Ivan and the firm worked closely with the Kennedy family and the architect I.M. Pei over many years to develop the design for the exhibition at the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.
The firm has long specialized in the design of graphic identities for a wide range of companies, government institutions and cultural organizations. Ivan’s designs for the Smithsonian Institution, Showtime Networks and Pan Am are considered iconic.
Over the years Ivan designed a range of children’s books that feature bold illustrations and sparse texts. His “Sun Moon Stars,” with a text by Kurt Vonnegut, has been reprinted in many languages. For Ivan, collage was a favorite means of personal expression apart from his professional work. Bright, colorful, and highly graphic, each collage is made from mailing envelopes, scraps of packaging, ticket stubs, bits of type, etc. This artwork has been featured in over 40 one-man exhibitions throughout the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Nearly all the collages are variations on the theme of the human face, each made with a style and visual wit characteristic of Ivan’s work.