Three Nice Things

Sometimes, I don’t think there is enough art (and writing and culture) devoted to capturing happiness. Stefan Sagmeister’s show at UPenn is great because it’s just that: happy stuff. Using typography and photography to illustrate inspirational sayings, it’s a bit like Pinterest got an art show… but in a good way!

But it’s not just light-weight eye candy. Sagmeister also incorporated some science into the show:

To contextualize the maxims that appear throughout the exhibition, Sagmeister has gathered the social data of Harvard psychologists Daniel Gilbert and Steven Pinker, psychologist Jonathan Haidt, anthropologist Donald Symons, and several prominent historians. A 12-minute segment of the Happy Film, a feature length exploration of whether it is possible to train the mind the way we train the body, will also be on view.

Cool. Especially since Daniel Gilbert is so great—he gave one of my very favorite TED Talks. It’s about how to be happy (of course) and the importance of synthetic happiness. Turns out, how we conceptualize happiness can really limit our enjoyment of things. Not everything has to be external for it to be real. Obviously, he explains it MUCH better than I am, so go watch it here.

Finally, though it’s a little unrelated, Sagmeister’s art reminded me of a great video that I think I found via the Jezebel commenting section. But don’t let that stop you from watching it! It’s a really great video on what being “pretty” means, and why you should never, ever want to be “just pretty.” Trust me on this one, it’s pretty cool.


Image: “Trying to look good limits my life” Art direction: Stefan Sagmeister. Design: Stefan Sagmeister, Matthias Ernstberger. Photography: Matthias Ernstberger. Client: Art Grandeur Nature.


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