This one will be short, sweet, and to the point.
My positioning regarding the relationship between theory and practice in the work of Stefan Sagmeister focuses on his installation “Trying to look good limits my life.” Stefan Sagmeister is a New York-based graphic designer and typographer and has won the Communications Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in 2005.
The title of this work is among the favorite quotes Sagmeister has regarding the things he learned in his life so far. Other quotes are, “Having guts always works out for me” and “Everything I do always comes back to me”. The installment commissioned by Art Grandeur Nature, during 2004, was broken up into five works then photographed by Matthias Ernstberger and exposed in sequence as typographic billboards in Paris. Art Grandeur Nature is a contemporary art periodic organized by the General Council of Seine-Saint-Denis since 1993. Its purpose is to create and showcase innovative artworks by international artists in contexts that are not usually dedicated to artistic expressions. This gives an extensive audience the chance to discover contemporary art, music, and literature.
The “Trying to look good” works by Sagmeister match with Baudrillard’s theory of hyper-reality. Baudrillard’s hyper-reality is further defined as a condition in which “reality” has been replaced with simulacra—when a sign loses its relation to reality. At this point it begins to simulate a method in which a representation of something comes to replace the thing that is actually being represented. “Trying to look good limits my life” questions societies anxieties with looking good, in the context of being and actuality along with taking risks.
I feel that the “Trying to look good” installations are original works, as are all of Sagmeister’s pieces. As a typographer and an artist Sagmeister shares his experiences through unconventional media in unusual situations to deliver a proclamation about our contemporary culture.
What does this art tell us about the state of contemporary culture? I feel this reminds us that too often we try to “look good” in the eyes of others. This limits us in our true capabilities because we focus to intently on pleasing others rather than finding our inner pleasures and letting those lead us to be who we are.