RIT’s University Gallery Hosts ‘Visual Music’ by Burton Kramer

Renowned graphic artist’s paintings express musical themes in geometric composition




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Syncopation 2, acrylic on canvas (2010) by Burton Kramer

“For me, painting is visual music,” says Burton Kramer. “My work references dancing feet, jazz, bebop, swing, baroque and folk music, Mozart, Corelli and Haitian drumming.”

Kramer is a true modernist, and his solo exhibition “Visual Music” produces some powerful imagery at University Gallery’s newest exhibition, in James E. Booth Hall at Rochester Institute of Technology. The show is open to the public and runs through Oct. 6, with a reception set for 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 13. Kramer also presents “My Design Evolution” at noon Sept. 13 in room 1440, Booth Hall, as part of the Vignelli Center for Design Studies’ Design Conversations Lecture Series.

“Visual Music” features 17 contemporary pieces in large format, acrylic on canvas. Kramer says the paintings do not abstract reality but provide their own alternate reality.

“The paintings are all about musical expression through geometric forms,” explains Jessica Erickson, University Gallery manager. “But they also have an architectural look to them.”

The Graphic Design Archives at RIT Libraries houses The Burton Kramer Collection, which was donated in February 2008 by Kramer. The collection, circa 1957-2008, includes advertisements, posters, brochures, reports, letterhead and client publications.

Kramer, born in 1932, is a graphic designer who trained in the U.S., pursued an influential career in Zurich, and then moved to Toronto, where he revitalized the design community with bold interpretations of the Swiss and International styles of typography and image. He became a driving force behind that city’s reputation as a lively, modernist environment and helped design graphics for Expo 67 in Montreal and worked as an art director for the Clairtone Sound Corp. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Arts Toronto in 1999 and an honorary doctorate from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 2002. He maintains a studio in Toronto and also pursues an avid interest in abstract painting.

University Gallery is located adjacent to RIT’s Vignelli Center for Design Studies—home to the entire archive of graphic and product designs by renowned international designers Massimo and Lella Vignelli. Gallery hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For information, contact Jessica Erickson at 585-475-2404 or jleugs@rit.edu.

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Syncopation 2, acrylic on canvas (2010) by Burton Kramer