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Tibor Kalman

Tibor Kalman
Tibor Kalman

( 1949 -07-06)July 6, 1949
DiedMay 2, 1999(1999-05-02) (aged 49)
Known forgraphic design

Tibor Kalman (July 6, 1949 – May 2, 1999) was an American graphic designer of Hungarian origin, well known for his work as editor-in-chief of Colors magazine.[1][2][3][4]

Early life

Kalman was born in Budapest and became a U.S. resident in 1956, after he and his family fled Hungary to escape the Soviet invasion, settling in Poughkeepsie, New York. Both of his parents had Jewish ethnic roots, and converted to Catholicism to avoid persecution, so "Kalman only became aware that he was Jewish at age 18."[5] He later attended NYU, dropping out after one year of Journalism classes.


In the 1970s Kalman worked at a small New York City bookstore that eventually became Barnes & Noble. He later became the supervisor of their in-house design department. In 1979 Kalman, Carol Bokuniewicz, and Liz Trovato started the design firm M & Co., which did corporate work for such diverse clients as the Limited Corporation, the new wave group Talking Heads, and Restaurant Florent in New York City's Meatpacking District.[6] Kalman also worked as creative director of Interview magazine in the early 1990s.

Kalman became founding editor-in-chief of the Benetton-sponsored Colors magazine in 1990. In 1993, Kalman closed M & Co. and moved to Rome, to work exclusively on the magazine.[3] Billed as 'a magazine about the rest of the world', Colors focused on multiculturalism and global awareness. This perspective was communicated through bold graphic design, typography, and juxtaposition of photographs and doctored images, including a series in which highly recognizable figures such as the Pope and Queen Elizabeth were depicted as racial minorities.

Later life

Kalman remained the main creative force behind Colors, until the onset of non-Hodgkins lymphoma forced him to leave in 1995, and return to New York. In 1997, Kalman re-opened M&Co and continued to work until his death in 1999 in Puerto Rico, shortly before a retrospective of his graphic design work entitled Tiborocity opened its U.S. Tour of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. A book about Kalman and M&Co's work, Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist, was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 1999.

Personal life

From 1981 up until his death, Kalman was married to the illustrator and author Maira Kalman.


Today the influence of M&Co is still strong, both as a result of its work and that of the many designers, like Stefan Sagmeister, Stephen Doyle, Alexander Isley, Scott Stowell, and Emily Oberman, who worked there and went on to start their own design studios in New York City. Howard Milton and Jay Smith who worked with Kalman in 1979 went on to found Smith & Milton in London. Tibor Kálmán was a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) and one of the 33 signers of the First Things First 2000 manifesto.

See also


  1. ^ Heller, Steven (1999). "Tibor Kalman: Provocateur". AIGA. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
  2. ^ Heller, Steven (May 5, 1999). "Tibor Kalman, 'Bad Boy' of Graphic Design, 49, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
  3. ^ a b Poynor, Rick (17 May 1999). "Obituary: Tibor Kalman". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
  4. ^ Haber, Matthew (May 19, 1999). "Tibor Kalman: A highly innovative and influential designer, the onetime editor of Colors magazine died May 2". Retrieved 2010-01-03.
  5. ^ Paola Antonelli, Tibor Kalman, Perverse Optimist, Booth-Clibborn Editions (1998), p. 54
  6. ^ Makovsky, Paul (March 20, 2006). "Restaurant Florent - 1985: A New York restaurateur creates a cultural hub by combining politics with design, activism with good food". Metropolis. Retrieved 2010-01-03. Quote: Florent Morellet "left most of the 1950s luncheonette features intact, and gave Tibor Kalman and M & Co. free reign [sic] to create ads and graphics that cultivated a Florent culture that survives today and extends well beyond the walls of the space."

External links