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Tibor Kalman

TIBOR KALMAN IS A GRAPHIC DESIGNER, a crafter of corporate logos, a producer of presentation materials, a maker of menus and restaurant posters. But Tibor Kalman is so much more than that.

According to most of those who judge such things (with whom I concur, by the way), he is accomplished, even brilliant at what he does. He may even be the greatest graphic designer of his generation. Certainly his output of the last twenty years, just collected in the three-and-a-half-pound book Perverse Optimist (Princeton Architectural Press), sparkles with witty solutions to the problems typical of corporate presentation. But why stop there? Kalman is, we are told, a radical—a breaker of rules, a dealer in astonishment, a deft questioner of the corporate order. In a manifesto co-authored in 1990, he insisted that graphic designers be “bad,” “disobedient,” “insubordinate,” that they refuse to be “a cog

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