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David King: Authoring the Visual Narrative by Design

Professor Rick Poynor
David King: Authoring the Visual Narrative by Design

The Centre for Book Cultures and Publishing (CBCP) is pleased to host this free online event which is open to all. This research seminar will be a hybrid event, taking place on the University of Reading campus (room TBC) and online. Please register your interest to receive the Zoom link here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/182700621477

David King (1942-2016) occupies an unusual position in British graphic design and publishing. At the Sunday Times Magazine, where he worked for 10 years, he was both a designer and a visual journalist, developing, researching and sometimes photographing his own stories. In 1972, he co-authored his first book, about Trotsky, and he went on to build up a world-class private collection of graphics and photographs from the Russian revolutionary period (now owned by Tate), which he used in his own work. As an expert visual researcher with an ever-developing command of the subject, he designed and authored a range of catalogues and books about Russian and Soviet history, among them The Commissar Vanishes (1997), Ordinary Citizens (2003) and Red Star Over Russia (2009). King was a leading example of “the designer as author”, able to conceive and construct visual narratives that would never be attempted by text-led historians or designers who lacked his deep historical knowledge. This talk will trace the development of King’s visual practice as an author, consider the visual signature he derived from constructivism, and assess the combination of visual and editorial skills that enabled his publishing projects. What are the implications of King’s body of work for a more complex form of visual authorship?

Rick Poynor is Professor of Design and Visual Culture at the University of Reading. He was the founding editor of Eye, the international review of graphic design, and co-founder of the Design Observer website. His most recent books are David King: Designer, Activist, Visual Historian (Yale University Press, 2020) and National Theatre Posters: A Design History (Unit Editions, 2017). His other books include Obey the Giant: Life in the Image World (2001), No More Rules: Graphic Design and Postmodernism (2003) and Jan van Toorn: Critical Practice (2008). Occasional Papers will publish Graphic Cultures, his fourth volume of essays, in 2022.


25 November 2021
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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Centre for Book Cultures and Publishing