ICA will be closing at 6PM on Wed. 11/21, and closed for the day on Thu. 11/22. Galleries will reopen Fri. 11/23 at 11AM.
Apr 4–Aug 12, 2012

Stefan Sagmeister The Happy Show

Happy Show Header

Happy Show Header

Happy Show Header

Graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister not only tests the boundary between art and design, he often transgresses it through his imaginative implementation of typography. Filling the ICA’s entire second-floor galleries and Ramp, and activating the in-between spaces of the museum, The Happy Show offers visitors the experience of walking into the designer’s mind as he attempts to increase his happiness via mediation, cognitive therapy, and mood-altering pharmaceuticals. “I am usually rather bored with definitions,” Sagmeister says. “Happiness, however, is just such a big subject that it might be worth a try to pin it down.” Centered around the designer’s 10-year exploration of happiness, this exhibition presents typographic investigations of a series of maxims, or rules to live by, originally culled from Sagmeister’s diary, manifested in a variety of imaginative and interactive forms. The Happy Show opens on Wednesday, April 4, 2012, with a reception from 6–8 p.m., and will remain on view through August 12, 2012.

To contextualize the maxims that appear throughout the exhibition, Sagmeister has gathered the social data of Harvard psychologists Daniel Gilbert and Steven Pinker, psychologist Jonathan Haidt, anthropologist Donald Symons, and several prominent historians. A 12-minute segment of The Happy Film, a feature length exploration of whether it is possible to train the mind the way we train the body, will also be on view.
Happy Show Tumblr

Happy Show Tumblr

Check out visitors’ symbols of happiness and more on The Happy Show Tumblr!

The Happy Show was organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania by former ICA director Claudia Gould, currently Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director, The Jewish Museum, New York. The exhibition was coordinated at ICA by Associate Curator Anthony Elms.

The Happy Show traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in winter 2013.

Stefan Sagmeister (b. 1962 Bregenz, Austria; lives New York) is a designer who blends typography and imagery in striking, fresh, ambitious, and unsettling ways. Having influenced the culture of design over the past decade, he is perhaps best known for his album covers for Talking Heads, Lou Reed, OK Go, and the Rolling Stones, to name only a few, as well as innovative campaigns for companies like Levis that have entered the public consciousness. This thematically focused exhibition, Sagmeister’s first museum show in the United States, presents work in film, print, infographics, sculpture, and interactive installations. In addition to individual works, some of which have been custom-made for this exhibition, The Happy Show includes a personal narrative, as Sagmeister’s individual experience is portrayed beside social data detailing the role of age, gender, race, money, and other factors that determine happiness.
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Sag-Mania: Stefan Sagmeister and the Pursuit of HappinessMan of Your Dreams: Installing First Among Equals and Stefan Sagmeister The Happy ShowTranslating the Explosion of Creativity: Jennifer Burris, ICA’s Whitney-Lauder Curatorial FellowThe VotingWhat Is Contemporary? Pick your own metaphorAfter the Monkeys: The stories exhibitions tellSomething Comes Down, Something New Goes Up: Dog Days at ICAThe Happiest MomentThe Found Poetry of Happiness: Stefan Sagmeister The Happy ShowThe Happy Class: Art and design, art and lifeHappiness ModulesFree For All: Spring 2012Opening and Walkthrough: Spring 2012PennDesign Fine Arts Lecture Series: Stefan SagmeisterLunchtime Conversation with Stefan Sagmeister

Sun, Apr 22, 2012, 12PM
Happiness Modules
Wed, Apr 11, 2012, 6PM
Free For All: Spring 2012
Wed, Apr 4, 2012, 6PM
Opening and Walkthrough: Spring 2012
Books & Editions

The Creative Publishing bundle celebrates the creative freedom of ICA curators and the designers they work with, and includes a selection of our most unique catalogues. First Among Equals (2012), curated by Kate Kraczon and Alex Klein and designed by Mark Owens and Other Means, has a spiral binding that allows any page spread to become the cover. Trisha Donnelly (2008), curated by Jenelle Porter and designed by Purtill Family Business, is an accordion book that opens into a single, long spread reminiscent of the installation of the exhibition. The Happy Show (2012), curated by Claudia Gould and designed by Purtill Family Business with Sara Hartman, is our smallest publication and measures only 2 3/4″ x 4″ x 3/4″. Finally Richard Tuttle: In Parts 1998-2001 (2001), curated by Ingrid Shaffner and designed by Purtill Family Business, is a catalogue designed to be torn apart: each of the 13 folios opens into a small poster.

This bundle retails for $110.00, and is available for a limited time for the discounted price of $75.00

Publication Date

Graphic designer, typographer and artist Stefan Sagmeister (born 1962) often tests and teases the boundary between art and design through his imaginative implementation of typography. The Happy Show, Sagmeister’s first museum show in the United States, both documents a series of self-experiments (meditation, cognitive therapy, and mood-altering pharmaceuticals) attempting to improve his personal happiness, and anticipates his ongoing feature length film, The Happy Film. Throughout this book, Sagmeister’s trademark maxims serve as access points to a larger exploration of happiness, its cultural significance, our constant pursuit of it, and its notoriously ephemeral nature. Includes an interview between Sagmeister and former ICA director Claudia Gould, the Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director of the Jewish Museum in New York.

ISBN 9780884541257
Publication Date
Purtill Family Business with Sara Hartman
Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania
Publication Date
Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ICA is grateful for primary sponsorship from The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative. Additional funding has been provided by ICAs Leadership Circle. ICA is also grateful to The Chodorow Exhibition Initiative Fund for support of the exhibitions tour. We acknowledge support from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; The Dietrich Foundation, Inc.; the Overseers Board for the Institute of Contemporary Art; friends and members of ICA; and the University of Pennsylvania. General operating support provided, in part, by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. ICA receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. ICA acknowledges Le Meridien Philadelphia as our official Unlock Art™ partner hotel.