The Poster Art of Jaqueline Casey

2012

Graphic designers rarely achieve fame or even public recognition for their work, although that work is often highly visible and broad in its impact. Jacqueline S. Casey (1927-1992) created an instantly-recognizable graphic identity for MIT while working in relative anonymity in the MIT Office of Design Services, from the mid-1950s through the mid-1980s. Today, Casey is admired as an innovative designer who broke professional gender barriers and elevated design within the culture of MIT.

Poster design was the ultimate expression of Casey’s art. She adopted the new Swiss typefaces Helvetica and Univers almost exclusively, combining typography with bold geometric forms and contrasting planes of color. The precision and clarity of post-war Swiss design, on which her work was based, was tempered with metaphor, witty word puzzles and double meanings appropriate for her academic audience. Using striking colors, humor, and modernity, her work enlivened drab walls across the MIT campus for three decades.