Martin Venezky is a designer and artist based in San Francisco, California. Throughout his career as a graphic designer, while specializing in book design and typography, Venezky has maintained a deep and continued interest in photographic process and abstraction. For the past several years, he has created new bodies of work in photography and photographic installation which, together with his design work, have appeared in group and solo exhibitions internationally.
Venezky has an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and an MFA in Design from Cranbrook Academy of Art. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art honored Venezky with a 2001 solo exhibition and, in 2005, his monograph, It Is Beautiful...Then Gone, was published by Princeton Architectural Press. In 2015 Venezky was inducted into the esteemed Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI). In 2018, San Francisco’s Letterform Archive acquired an extensive collection of his work, studies and process for their permanent collection.
Venezky has taught at RISD and CalArts and, since 1993, at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, where he is currently Professor in the MFA program in Design.
In 2018 Mike Slane and his Denver-based studio, Practice, filmed a short documentary about my photo and design work, as well as my studio and collections. Watch it here.
From the gallery website:
From the confines of the physical world, Anna Bogatin Ott and Martin Venezky extract tangible elements to build a new plane of existence that is familiar and fantastical at once; their works transcend the conventional notion of photography as an emanation of reality. Both artists abstract materiality into other-worldly realms with their own aesthetical language and structures.
Anna Bogatin Ott’s sublime pieces are constructed from digital photographs of nature and the environment; she collects “data points” from vibrant blooms of flowers, from the sense of tranquility at dusk by the river and from the vastness of the lunar surface as captured by NASA. Anna builds luminescent color fields reflecting purity, balance and harmony.
While Anna creates digital allegories of the natural world, Martin Venezky uses physically scavenged pieces of metal, glass, plastic and toys to form his series “The New Machinery.” As still-lives modeled and sculpted by complex lighting, these extraordinary compositions are transformed into machine-like objects straight out of science fiction. Their stark, black and white presence contrasts with Anna’s colorful representations. Both bodies of works energize an invigorating dialogue in the ever-evolving medium of photography.
The International Typography Poster Exhibition, organized by Chang Kim in Ulsan, South Korea, has traveled to Galeria Retroavangarda in Warsaw, Poland. The exhibition, retitled “Letter & Image: Typographic Odyssey,” includes my poster, ZZZZRRHU (Feeling Better), the first time my work has been shown in the country of my ancestry.
As an invited artist, I designed this large A0 poster for the International Typography Poster Exhibition. This year's theme was “Letter and Image.”
My poster is titled ZZZZRRHU (Feeling Better). Last year's gloom gives way to a colorful shimmering optimism. But wait... is adding glitter on top of nonsense a sign of hope or deceipt?
James Chae, a South Korean designer and educator, organized an exhibition concerning the intersection of music and design. Each participant listened to the same 45-minute instrumental composition and then responded to it with a poster design. I opted for a trio of posters each based on a 15 minute passage of the music. Chae also published the first issue of Pudding Magazine which showcased the works in the show plus portfolios and articles about each of the participating artists.
A selection from my New Machinery series was included in the expansive survey exhibition With Eyes Opened: Cranbrook Academy of Art Since 1932. The exhibition, curated by museum director and Cranbrook alumnus Andrew Blauvelt, filled the museum’s galleries with over 250 works representing all periods of all departments at the Academy. The exhibition included a monumental and definitive catalog and history of the school’s impact and accomplishments.
“We Have Been Where You Are Going,” a collaborative project with Barbara Levine, exhibited a part of the gallery’s Control+P series.
The biannual Bay Area Currents moved online for 2020.
My newest work for The New Machinery series was featured in the exhibition.
Nineteen prints from The New Machinery were exhibited at the Camerawork Gallery.
From exhibition website:
This exhibition features five contemporary artists whose work questions and extends photography in surprising ways. The exhibition’s title is a nod to the influential book The Edge of Vision by Lyle Rexer, which presents numerous artists working at the boundaries of lens-based practices. In this time of ubiquitous images and familiar pictures, these artists find novel pathways to meaning through invention, play, and subversion of the medium’s long held conventions.
In 2019, my class, “Form Studio” celebrated its twentieth anniversary as a key component of my teaching and philosophy. What began as an experimental undergraduate elective at California College of the Arts (CCA) has since become a cornerstone of our graduate studio curriculum. The exhibition, curated and designed by Martin Venezky and Jon Sueda at San Francisco’s Institute of Advanced Uncertainty, gathered together student work, sets of materials used in the teaching, and included a program of lectures and demonstrations.
Untitled No. 21 from “The New Machinery” was selected as part of the exhibition, “Abstract,” opening November 2018 in Fort Collins, Colorado. Big thanks to juror Elizabeth Houston from Elizabeth Houston Gallery in New York.
“What I Know About Photography,” designed and curated by Jon Sueda at San Francisco State University, surveys the full extent of my personal photographic journey. The exhibition reaches all the way back to my very first camera, my own photographic re-education at Cranbrook, my collected vernacular snapshots, wall installations, constructions, and the ongoing series, “The New Machinery.”
It was a terrific honor to see all of this history gathered together, reconnect with friends and colleagues from both design and photography, and consider this as a launching pad for further exploration. Currently in the works is a full catalog of the exhibition, designed and edited by Jon Sueda and featuring contributions from a roster of insightful thinkers and writers.
Jon Sueda also edited, designed and produced this 144-page catalog. As Sueda describes it, “the exhibition aims to highlight a parallel practice, investigating how a designer can have multiple lines of inquiry during a career that can not only be woven together, but appreciated in proximity to one another. The book includes over 100 images made between 1991 to the present, including snapshots, found photography, collage, and his most recent body of work titled ‘The New Machinery.’” The book includes a series of interviews, conversations and essays by Rudy Vanderlans, Andy Mattern, Jon Sueda and Emily McVarish.
Bay Area Currents is a juried exhibition sponsored by San Francisco’s Photo Alliance. An image from my series The New Machinery was selected for inclusion.
The New Machinery made its wide public debut at the San Francisco International Airport in 2018. Curator Kai Caemmerer selected eight images from my ongoing series to feature in one of Terminal 3’s pre-security galleries. The exhibition is on display from July 12 through October 18, 2018. You can read the SFO press release here.
The New Machinery No. 24 was selected by juror Jean Dykstra for the Center for Fine Art Photography’s exhibition “Wonder.”
Every Corner Vibrates Like Art is the final work to be shown at the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) Grove Street Gallery. Composed of hundreds of individual 4x6 color prints plus a selection of larger black & white images, this work is put together with push pins on four 4ft x 8ft easels. The work was installed in the four street level windows of the gallery to announce its closing and the opening of SFAC’s new gallery a few blocks away.
Student Collaboration on an 8ft x 24ft photo installation
A Song! A Song!, installed at San Francisco’s SOMArts Gallery was commissioned by Jon Sueda as part of his “All Possible Futures” exhibition. The free-standing wall collage measures 10’3″ tall x 7’6″ wide and is composed of digital photoprints adhered to the wall with pushpins. All the photographs were created in-camera using ordinary materials stockpiled in my studio: glass, paper, plastic, and so on. Up to this point my photo work had been confined to my own studio walls or created exclusively for design projects. This is the first time I had created a wall like this for the public, and the first time all of the photographs were made specifically for a single installation.
ADOBE SYSTEMS invited me to install a massive 30-foot-long wall collage inside their San Francisco headquarters. The individual pieces were all taken from my collection of paper ephemera, photo and type studies, and print ephemera. There are even a few new pieces that I collected on my walks between my office on Bryant Street and the Adobe headquarters on Townsend Street, a few blocks away.
Martin Venezky: Selections from the Permanent Collection of Architecture and Design was organized by Darrin Alfred, curatorial associate, and Aaron Betsky, curator of architecture, design, and digital projects.
I was included in the first National Design Triennial, curated by Ellen Lupton, Donald Albrecht, and Steven Skov Holt.
10ft x 7.5ft freestanding installation, curated by Jon Sueda for his exhibition, All Possible Futures
WITH EYES OPENED: CRANBROOK ACADEMY OF ART SINCE 1932
Catalog accompanying the Cranbrook Art Museum exhibition features a spread of my work for Speak Magazine.
EUROPEAN PHOTOGRAPHY 110
F-STOP: A PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE
Issue 105: The Constructed Image
February/March Group Exhibition
PUDDING MAGAZINE 001
Design & Music
Published portfolio including The New Machinery and Abrasives series.
AMERICA BY DESIGN: FAIL. HARD.
Episode 2 Podcast with Will Hall.
CRAZY BIRD PODCAST
Episode 3: On staying observant, challenging yourself, experimenting and dipping into a new territory.
Podcast with Wioleta Kaminska
Salon Series 21: Martin Venezky
WHAT I KNOW ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY
Catalog for 2018 exhibition. Designed and edited by Jon Sueda. Includes interviews and essays by Rudy Vanderlans, Andy Mattern, Jon Sueda, and Emily McVarish
June blog post by Aline Smithson features The New Machinery.
BETA: DEVELOPMENTS IN PHOTOGRAPHY
A portfolio of my New Machinery work appeared in Issue 32: July 2019
July 7, 2019 Photo blog post by Carson Sanders featured the Delta Hex photomural installation.
SOME RECENT FINDINGS
Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography, curated and edited by Andrew Kensett, Assistant Curator, University of Arizona Center for Creative Photography under the title Take the Picture: Capture, Collect, Archive, Photograph. “The twenty-four artists represented in this portfolio consider two acquisitive potentials of photography: to collect visual records of experience and to produce objects that may themselves be collected and circulated.Their artworks constitute findings, both in the sense that their content is found, and that they represent new knowledge generated through experimentation.”
Three images from The New Machinery included in Issue No. 11, “Back to Reality.”
Issue 89: Altered Image
LENSCULTURE EXPOSURE AWARDS
Judge's Choice Award for “We Have Been Where You Are Going,” a collaboration with Barbara Levine.
A separate LensCulture entry on the winning series.
And inclusion in the Best of LensCulture, Volume 1.
December 28, 2017. Online photo blog post by Carson Sanders featured “We Have Been Where They Are Going,” a collaborative project with Barbara Levine.
May 10, 2017. Online photo blog post by Taylor Curry featured the series The New Machinery.
Designing a Process for Design.
Conference presentation recorded for YouTube.
Studio visit and interview blog post by Robert Urquhart.
ELEPHANT MAGAZINE, Spring, Issue 26
“Silicon Valley versus Creativity,” by Robert Urquhart.
Podcast with Professor Mitch Goldstein at RIT
“Best of Design: The Year’s Top Office Makeovers Airbnb Abodes, and More” by Sarah White.
“Exposition: Four Experts in the Art World Cull a Portfolio of the Bay Area’s Finest Talents,” by Julia Flagg, et al
FELT & WIRE
“Type is Alive in this Letterpress Poster,” by Tom Biederbeck
“Martin Venezky Listens to the Sound of Type,” by Tom Biederbeck
“Creative Chain: Connecting Creatives One Link at a Time,” by Emily Potts
TYPOGRAPHIC DESIGN: FORM AND COMMUNICATION
Rob Carter, Ben Day, et al
Podcast with Debbie Millman
IT IS BEAUTIFUL... THEN GONE
Monograph published by Princeton Architectural Press.
CALIFORNIA COLLEGE OF THE ARTS
San Francisco CA
2016 – present
Professor, Graduate Program in Design
2009 – 2016
Associate Professor, Graduate Program in Design
2007 – 2009
Adjunct Professor, Graduate/Undergraduate
KANSAS CITY ART INSTITUTE
Kansas City MO
2014 – 2017
Joyce C. Hall Distinguished Professor of Design
CALIFORNIA INSTITUE OF THE ARTS (CALARTS)
2005 – 2007
Adjunct Professor, Graduate/Undergraduate
ART CENTER COLLEGE OF DESIGN
2005 – 2007
Adjunct Professor, Graduate/Undergraduate
RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL OF DESIGN
2003 – 2004
Assistant Visiting Professor, Graduate/Undergraduate
New Orleans LA
2009 – 2012
Visiting Artist, Design Department Assessor
1991 – 1993
CRANBROOK ACADEMY OF ART
Bloomfield Hills MI
MFA in Design
1975 – 1979
BA in Visual Studies