Barbara Stauffacher Solomon

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Barbara Stauffacher Solomon
BornDecember 1928 (age 95)
EducationSan Francisco Art Institute,
Basel Art Institute,
University of California, Berkeley
Occupation(s)Graphic designer,
landscape architect
(m. 1948; died 1955)
Daniel Solomon
(m. 1969)
ChildrenNellie King Solomon

Barbara "Bobbie" Stauffacher Solomon (born 1928) is an American landscape architect[1] and graphic designer.[2] Barbara Stauffacher Solomon is best known for her large-scale interior ‘supergraphics’ and exterior signage at Sea Ranch, a private estate with a utopian vision in Sonoma County, California. [3]

Early life and education[edit]

Barbara Stauffacher Solomon was born in 1928 as a third-generation San Franciscan.[4] As a young woman, Stauffacher Solomon studied and worked as a dancer,[5] as well as studying painting and sculpture at San Francisco Art Institute.[6]

In 1948, at 20 years-old, she married the filmmaker Frank Stauffacher. The designer and printmaker Jack Stauffacher was her brother in law.

In 1956, after the death of her husband, Stauffacher Solomon moved to Basel, Switzerland to study graphic design at the Basel Art Institute with Armin Hofmann from 1956 to 1959.[5] She made the decision to study design because she knew she could make a living and needed to support herself and her small child.[6][7][8][9] She later studied Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley and graduated in 1981, writing her thesis on Green Architecture & The Agrarian Garden.[10]

She remarried in 1969 to Daniel Solomon, an architect and professor.[9] Their daughter, Nellie King Solomon, is also an artist, and has showed at exhibitions with Stauffacher Solomon.


Stauffacher Solomon returned to San Francisco in 1962 and set up an office as a graphic designer where she designed the monthly program guides for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.[11][12]

Brochure cover for the Sea Ranch

She met landscape architect Lawrence Halprin who gave her work at Sea Ranch in 1968, where she designed the architectural scale paintings for the building interiors, due to her educational background. Her work at Sea Ranch grew from her vocabulary of signs to create motion and an awareness of space. She created the logo for Sea Ranch that was a cross between Swiss design and California impressionism to interpret the property's rams and crashing waves. Halprin went on to recommend her to other architects in the San Francisco area who let her design what she wanted.[12][13][8][14] She went on to receive two American Institute of Architects (AIA) awards for her work at Sea Ranch.[15]

Stauffacher Solomon was an instructor at Harvard University and Yale University, where she was invited by Charles Moore, whom she had met while working at Sea Ranch, to lead a studio on supergraphics in 1968.[16] The studio was a week-long project creating two-dimensional graphics that reinforced the architecture of Yale University's Art and Architecture elevators. It was wildly successful and heralded by Ada Louise Huxtable as a protest against the Establishment.[17]

In the short period of its existence from 1970 until 1971 she was art director of Scanlan's Magazine.[citation needed]

In 1995, she designed a large outdoor art installation called "Promenade Ribbon" for the city of San Francisco.[18] In 2002, Stauffacher Solomon was a member of the San Francisco Art Commission.[19] In 2015, Stauffacher Solomon works as a landscape architect and continues to realize large scale graphic interventions outside.[20]

Stauffacher Solomon is the author of the autobiographic book Why? Why not?.[4]


Stauffacher Solomon's drawings and supergraphics have been included in a number of museum exhibitions.

In 2018, she created the supergraphic installation Land(e)scape 2018 at the Berkeley Art Museum.[21]

In 2019, she was the subject of a solo exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).[22]

From March to May 2021, Barbara Stauffacher Solomon's solo show GROP at Gallery Van Bartha in Basel, curated by Matylda Krzykowski, showcases over 40 drawings and paintings by the artist from 1980s to 2021. Krzykowski introduced Stauffacher Solomon to the gallery.


  • Green Architecture: Notes on the Common Ground (Design quarterly 120), 1982
  • Green Architecture and the Agrarian Garden, 1989 ISBN 0847809072
  • Good Mourning California (1 ed.). New York, New York: Rizzoli International Publishers. 1992. ISBN 978-0847815425.
  • Why? Why Not?, 2013
  • Utopia Myopia, 2013


  1. ^ Paula Deitz (29 November 2011). Of Gardens: Selected Essays. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 51–. ISBN 978-0-8122-0696-8.
  2. ^ Design Book Review: DBR. Design Book Review. 1994.
  3. ^ Poulin, Richard (2012). Graphic Design + Architecture. A 20th-Century History. Rockport Publishers. p. 156.
  4. ^ a b "Rebecca Solnit Variety Show for Modern Times". Mission Local
  5. ^ a b "Barbara Stauffacher Solomon". Retrieved 2024-03-10.
  6. ^ a b Brook, Tony; Shaughnessy, Adrian (2010). Supergraphics: Transforming Space: Graphic Design for Walls, Buildings & Spaces. Unit 2. London: Unit Editions. p. 279.
  7. ^ Friedman, Mildred S. (1989). Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History. Minneapolis: Walker Arts Center. p. 254.
  8. ^ a b Staff, Create. "Visions Not Previously Seen: The Groundbreaking Design Work of Barbara Stauffacher Solomon | Create". Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  9. ^ a b "26 May 1971, 21 - Dayton Daily News at". Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  10. ^ "Von Bartha announces representation of Bernar Venet, Barbara Stauffacher Solomon and Claudia Wieser". Art Daily News.
  11. ^ "Barbara Stauffacher Solomon". SFMOMA. Retrieved 2017-03-21.
  12. ^ a b "A multi-hyphenate pioneer: Barbara Stauffacher Solomon". Fold by Moleskine: The New Magazine for Art, Trends and Talents (in Italian). Archived from the original on 2020-12-14. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  13. ^ "Journey to the Sea Ranch · Moonraker Athletic Complex · Sea Ranch". Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  14. ^ "T Suggests: Sumptuous Scrunchies, Radiant Paintings by an Outsider Artist and More". The New York Times. 2019-02-22. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  15. ^ "Back Matter". Design Quarterly (76): 26–28. 1970. ISSN 0011-9415. JSTOR 4047343.
  16. ^ Robert A.M. Stern and Jimmy Stamp, Pedagogy and Place: 100 Years of Architectural Education at Yale (Yale University Press, 2016)
  17. ^ Blau, Eve (2016). "This Work Is Going Somewhere: Pedagogy and Politics at Yale in The Late 1960s". Log (38): 131–149. ISSN 1547-4690. JSTOR 26323794.
  18. ^ "Skateboarders barred for art's sake". Gerald D. Adams, San Francisco EXAMINER December 20, 1995
  19. ^ "S.F. struck by love / Cupid's big bow gets rise out of passers-by". San Francisco Chronicle, Patrick Hoge, November 23, 2002
  20. ^ Segran, Elizabeth (2021-07-15). "The most influential designer you've never heard of is a 92-year-old artist in SF". Fast Company. Retrieved 2021-07-16.
  21. ^ "At 90, Barbara Stauffacher Solomon Has No Time for the Art World (and Never Did)". KQED. 2018-08-16. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  22. ^ "Barbara Stauffacher Solomon · SFMOMA". Retrieved 2019-03-18.

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