Sait Maden / The Elegant Dervish

WHO IS SAIT MADEN? A poet, translator, painter, publisher and graphic designer, Sait Maden was born on May 3, 1931 in Çorum. He completed his primary and secondary educations there and had his education of fine arts in Istanbul. Between…

Sait Maden / The Elegant Dervish

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WHO IS SAIT MADEN?

A poet, translator, painter, publisher and graphic designer, Sait Maden was born on May 3, 1931 in Çorum. He completed his primary and secondary educations there and had his education of fine arts in Istanbul. Between 1949-55, he studied painting at İDGSA and then he graduated from Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu Atelier.
Maden, who has continued to produce with an extraordinary efficiency and competence in different areas such as graphic design, painting, poetry and translation for 60 years, started writing poems when he was just 13. He began to learn French and Ottoman language when he was 16. He made translations from French poets when he was 18 and won a contest of Varlık magazine with his translation of Baudelaire’s ‘Moesta et Errabunda’. He learned Spanish so that he could translate Lorca from its mother tongue. By translating Baudelaire’s “The Flowers of Evil”, all the poems of Lorca, Neruda, Aragon, Paz, Mayakovsky, Eluard, and some of Saint-John Perse’s poems, Maden meticulously prepared an examination anthology under the name of “Bir Şiir Müzesi” in exact 40 years. It includes unnamed poems, folk songs, spells and epics and it reveals the “humankind’s five thousand years of poetry adventure”.
Being foresighted and visionary, Sait Maden did all kinds of works, which can contribute to development of design world. Between 1955 and 1960, he made billboard and exhibition designs, theater decors and cinema posters. At first, he began his work of graphic design as a side job in 1957. After 1960, he mainly focused on this discipline and concentrated on broadcast design. He designed the covers of almost 8000 books and magazines for various publishing houses. He made around 500 designs of logo, periodical publication, brochure, package and label. He also designed some of the typefaces he used in his books. He was the designer of many political posters. After a period of journalism he did between 1958-63, he founded his own private atelier in 1964. Between 1960-75, he provided advertising and promotion services for companies such as Yapı Kredi, İş Bankası, Akbank and Denizcilik Bankası.
In 1969, he was among the founders of the Association of Graphic Artists. He served as the chairperson of this association for a while. During this period, his works took a place in foreign publications. In 1979, he started his book project named “Turkish Graphics from the Beginning till Today” and it was a first for Turkey. The book was written as a result of researches aiming to find a history of graphic design in Turkey and the first chapter was published on “Çevre” magazine. Although he could not complete his work due to lack of time and support, he wrote the chapter of after 1830 period as a summary and published it on “Grafik Sanatı” magazine. Maden’s drawing attention to the lack of design consciousness in Turkey and his thoughts about none of the graphic designers’ having a place in museums had sort of explained why his works left unsupported.
He also collected his logo designs in his book called ”Simgeler” (Symbols) published in 1990. In the preface of his book, he writes: “As my first symbol to be awarded was drawn in 1955, I am a fifty-year observer and practitioner. I have drawn hundreds of symbols in these fifty years.” Sadık Karamustafa talks about Maden: “It would be fair to call him as the designer who brought the understanding of modern typography to Turkish graphic design.”
The work area of Sait Maden is divided into two complementary parts: graphics and literature. He expresses this relationship in these words: “The only source that shapes, slightly affects and supports my graphic is my poet side. My literature has fed my drawing very much.” He founded “Çekirdek Yayınları” in 1996, in order to publish his books of poetry and translation. He reflected his different moods gained by literature in his illustration style and produced many different types of work.
Between December 17 and January 24 in 2010, the retrospective exhibition titled “Bir Usta, Bir Dünya: Sait Maden. Tasarımcı, Sanatçı, Şair” was conducted at “Yapı Kredi Kültür Merkezi Sermet Çifter Salonu” and also a book was published during the exhibition. The last exhibition of Maden was conducted in K2 Contemporary Art Center in Izmir on April 4 – 11, 2013 under the name of “Simgeler”.

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