Exhibition catalogues and other art books line the shelves at Marquand Books. We asked our design director, Jeff Wincapaw, to select a title and discuss its design process with us. He chose the exhibition catalogue Willie Doherty: Requisite Distance, produced by Marquand Books for the Dallas Museum of Art in 2009.
The exhibition was significant; for the first time, Doherty’s media installation Ghost Story was shown together with photographs he’d taken in Ireland during the 1990s. The exhibition separated the works into adjoined rooms. The catalogue takes its design cues from both the nature of Doherty’s work and the layout of the exhibition itself.
What makes this book different from others you’ve worked on?
The exhibition had two parts we needed to include in the catalogue: a series of photographs and a video installation. The challenge was to bring both segments of the exhibition together in a book and to somehow recreate the movement of the film on the page.
How did this influence the design?
Well, we wanted to bring the experience of the exhibit to the catalogue. To simulate the rhythm of the film and create emotional responses for the reader, we varied the sizes of the video stills, how many were on a page, and so on.
To separate the two parts of the book, we used a formal white backgound for the photographs and a dark gray for the film’s still photos. The gray makes it feels like you’re in a theater—everything but the image fades into the background.
In what way did the subject matter shape the design?
The format of the book conforms to Doherty’s photographs and film. Overall, the design is restrained. The typography is neutral, understated. An essay separates the photographs from Ghost Story, and once into the film portion of the book, it is primarily pictorial. There aren’t page numbers. We kept it as minimal as possible in an effort to present the work cinematically.
The subject matter is beautiful, but it’s also discomforting. The pictures from the film are moody and, subconciously, a bit unsettling. We wanted them to pop off the page, so we used a gloss finish on the photographs, which helps to illuminate them.
To purchase a copy of Willie Doherty: Requisite Distance, visit Yale University Press online.
photography by Jeremy Linden