Craig Miller, the curator of architecture, design and graphics at the Denver Art Museum, has a gift for putting together small yet thoughtful shows. One of three exhibits showing on the second floor is John Sorbie: Graphic Designer, a lovely exploration of this important poster designer's career.
The show coincides with the Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition now being presented in Fort Collins, partly at the Lincoln Center and partly at the Curfman Galleries on the Colorado State University campus. The connection is not a casual one, since Sorbie, who died in 1995, was a founder of the showcase and taught at CSU for thirty years.
One of the most remarkable features of Sorbie's posters is the way he cut up images in a style that seems to anticipate computer graphics. "These posters were designed using cut-and-paste," says Miller. "Sorbie never worked on a computer." Most of the posters include photo-based imagery and sport asymmetrical compositions. An exception is Tea House of the August Moon (above), from 1964, the oldest poster in the show. Most of the posters here promote campus activities; this one advertises a play by the CSU theater department.
Sorbie probably didn't earn a fee for designing these, though with his gift, he surely could have sold his services to corporations for big money. The fact that he didn't, choosing instead to devote himself to his many students, says a lot about him. So does this excellent show.