Massimo Vignelli, ‘America the Melting Pot 1976  (United States is the Melting Pot, or  Melting Pot, American Flag)’, 1989, Alpha 137 Gallery
Massimo Vignelli, ‘America the Melting Pot 1976  (United States is the Melting Pot, or  Melting Pot, American Flag)’, 1989, Alpha 137 Gallery
Massimo Vignelli, ‘America the Melting Pot 1976  (United States is the Melting Pot, or  Melting Pot, American Flag)’, 1989, Alpha 137 Gallery

America the Melting Pot is one of the most iconic designs by the legendary graphic designer Massimo Vignelli. Though this limited edition, hand signed silkscreen was created decades ago, we need not remind the world that its message: the United States is a wonderful melting pot of diverse cultures -- is more urgent and resonant these days than ever. (All the more so, as Vignelli himself was a first generation immigrant to the U.S., who famously never mastered the English language -- but was the poet laureate of the international language of design!) Indeed, "Melting Pot" is a brilliantly designed work of art, incorporating typesets and torn pages from vintage newspapers in multiple languages, including El Diario, the New York Post, the New York Times, Il Progresso, Novoe Russkoe Slovo, the Yiddish newspaper, etc. It would look magnificent in any home or office; a great conversation piece and a bold statement of multi-cultural inclusion. The bottom edge is deckled, so it would look magnificent when floated and framed. Although Vignelli is one of the most influential and prolific designers, he rarely did limited edition signed silkscreens; indeed, the publisher believes this edition of 300 signed and numbered silkscreens in fact was a one-off. The publisher of this work was a personal friend of the artist and persuaded him to do this magnificent screenprint. Years later, Vignelli was approached to reprise this design, but asked make the news more "happy", as he was criticized for the dark realism of some of the clippings; but he categorically refused, so the present work "Melting Pot" remains the first, only, and definitive edition.
The photos do not do justice to the work; it is a masterpiece of design. This striking, large-scale screenprint reflects Vignelli's love for his adopted country, the United States, celebrating the diverse views, cultures, languages and beliefs that make up the American social landscape. It is dated 1976/1989, as it was created in 1976 for the US bicentennial but printed later in 1989. The provenance of this piece is irrefutable, as we are selling it on behalf of the publisher - a personal friend of the late artist. Vignelli was celebrated around the world for his enduring and innovative contributions to modern design; but to those of us here in New York City, he was best known and loved by for designing the iconic subway maps that were used for decades - which people like me grew up on!! In fine original condition; never framed. As additional provenance, the collector of this piece will be furnished with a hand signed tirage/documentation sheet with full information about the edition, proofs, publisher, paper, etc.

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Signature: Pencil signed and dated lower right in Massimo Vignelli's inimitable hand; pencil numbered lower left - unique number from the limited edition of 300. Unframed; never framed and in fine (original) condition with a stunning deckled bottom edge so it would look terrific when floated and framed. Also, accompanied by a tirage/documentation sheet hand signed by Vignelli's publisher, providing extensive details about the edition, the number of PP's, APs, paper, etc. (accompanying this lot but not shown for security reasons)

We are selling this work on behalf of the publisher of this iconic print, so the provenance is direct and irrefutable. Our clients know that we rarely sell works on consignment; we take pride in having invested and paid for every work we sell. But this happens to be one of my personal, all time favorite prints - and I adore Massimo Vignelli -- so if ever I were to make an exception to my golden rule -- this is it !! We were just so thrilled to learn the publisher kept a very small few of these masterpieces - and is willing, after so many decades, to share them with the world. This is a stunning design - so kudos to the artist, as well as the publisher and printer. Once again -- Vignelli got it right...

About Massimo Vignelli

Massimo Vignelli shaped the visual landscape of mid-century America and created designs that we continue to encounter to this day. In collaboration with his wife Lella, the Italian designer established now-familiar corporate identities for companies such as American Airlines, Knoll International, and Bloomingdales. He also designed the network of signage used to navigate the New York City subway. In use since 1972, Vignelli’s wayfinding system identifies subway lines by numbers and letters set within colored circles, and his graphic signs feature highly legible white-on-black text intended to help millions find their way across the city. Vignelli’s clean, grid-based compositions, dynamic application of color, and commitment to sans-serif typefaces set a standard for American graphic design, particularly in public institutions, and established Helvetica as the country’s most ubiquitous font.

Italian, 1931-2014