The Museum of Avant-garde

Edward Fella

Edward Fella, an emeritus professor at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), is renowned for blurring the lines between fine art and graphic design throughout his extensive career. His journey began with a Bauhaus-inspired education, fusing fine and functional art seamlessly. For 30 years in Detroit, he balanced commercial art with experimental graphic design, a foundation that shaped his distinctive style.

Upon joining CalArts in 1987, Fella found the freedom to fully explore his creative impulses. His studio at the school became a sanctuary filled with decades of artistic exploration, housing an array of posters, drawings, and sketches. Here, he embraced "commercial vernacular," recalling his early commercial art days. Central to Fella's work are his handcrafted flyers from his time at CalArts, serving as personal expressions rather than mere announcements. Rejecting traditional constraints, he adopted an "exit-level designer" persona, diving into extreme graphic forms with abandon.

Fella's art has earned recognition from prestigious institutions like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), where he received a solo exhibition in 2017. His pieces grace collections such as the Merrill C. Berman Collection and MoMA's Architecture and Design department. Influenced by Surrealism, Fella infuses his creations with avant-garde compositional structures and imagery. His hand-drawn typography, marked by expressive rawness, revitalizes the art of hand-lettering.

Beyond exhibitions and collections, Fella's impact on the field extends through his unconventional approach to design and unwavering commitment to creative freedom. The "Ed Fella Documents" exhibition in Chaumont, France, in 2011 provided insight into his multifaceted practice, solidifying his status as a pioneer in contemporary graphic art. His recent book, "Ed Fella: A Life in Images," offers an up-to-date retrospective of his entire 65-year career, further cementing his legacy. Through relentless experimentation, Fella continues to leave an indelible mark on the intersection of art and design, challenging conventions and transcending categorization.