The New Old: SVA Grad Blends Holbein with Contemporary Design

Imagine if the essence of a 16th-century artistic genius was encapsulated through the lens of modern design. Renaissance meets contemporary as School of Visual Arts graduate Hyun Jung Lee beautifully bridges the gap with “Holbein: Capturing Character.” Explore this Gold-winning journey where history is told, not in pages or words, but through expressive typography and designs that echo through time.

SVA Graduate Wins Gold for “Holbein: Capturing Character” Exhibition Identity

By: SVA BFA Design and BFA Advertising

The winner of a coveted Gold Award at the 2023 Graphis New Talent Awards, School of Visual Arts recent graduate Hyun Jung Lee (BFA 2022 Design) reimagined the works of Renaissance artist Hans Holbein the Younger through an identity system for the exhibition “Holbein: Capturing Character” on display at The Morgan Library & Museum last spring. She created the award-winning work in her design portfolio class under the guidance of instructor Joseph Han.

Hans Holbein the Younger was a sixteenth-century artist known for his striking portraits and ornamental paintings. Hyun Jung’s goal was to capture the essence of his artwork through expressive typographic gestures contributing to a type-driven system for the exhibition. In some instances, the type frames the subtly expressive subjects of Holbein’s famous portraits without stifling their emotional impact. In others, the type becomes the subject itself, framed by arch motifs common in his painted scenes.

These architectural elements create a continuity between Hyun Jung’s designs and Holbein’s artworks, producing a seamless but contemporary identity. The rounded arches supported by heavy columns that frame the subject of his Portrait of a Scholar are modernized and superimposed over the gentler plant elements that surround the face of A Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling, as seen in one of the award-winning posters. Integrating the decorative serif type with the frame graphics creates a dynamic system that stays true to Holbein’s distinct style.

Hyun Jung’s accomplishment is a testament to the power of design to connect us with the creative masters of history and allow their genius to continue to impact audiences hundreds of years on. Through the nuance of typography and the elegance of the graphic motifs, the exhibition’s identity design preserves the spirit of Holbein’s work while appealing to the modern eye.

Hyun Jung Lee is a designer based in NYC. She is currently at 2×4 and previously worked at Gretel, Decade, XXIX, and Order. She graduated from the School of Visual Arts with honors in BFA Design, focusing on multidisciplinary design in branding.

Social: Instagram

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Author: Graphis