This morning, Festival friends and staff joined King Street retailers and members of the local media at Bob Ellis Shoes, where General Director Nigel Redden unveiled the official 2013 Festival poster, featuring “Angled Ring” by New York-based artist Robert Mangold.

Mangold’s work frequently includes direct architectural references or has the feeling of being drawn by an architect’s hand. He almost always works in extensive series, often carried through both paintings and works on paper. “Angled Ring” is part of Mangold’s Ring Paintings, a series that highlights the artist’s expansive and reflective vocabulary, in which there is a continuous evolution from his early to his most recent works. The original piece is pastel and black pencil on paper, 31¼” x 29¾”. Pencil lines segment the image into even proportions, while heavier curving lines react to the ring’s shape and its divisions, pressing against the boundaries of its structure. Mangold’s work can be found in more than 75 public collections in the United States and abroad including The Art Institute of Chicago; The J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Gallery, London; and the Pace Gallery, New York.

To the casual observer the process of selecting each season’s poster is not obvious—there is no contest or juried art show or special commission (although original work has sometimes been created specifically for the poster). Redden says there is a connective thread that runs back to the beginning of The Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, with images that represent a succession of important contemporary artists working during the more than 50-year span of the Italian festival and Spoleto Festival USA. Each season Redden seeks to add to that list of great artists, but beyond that the selection process becomes fluid. The goal is to select—or create—a piece of art that represents the Festival in some way, but this is a goal that is open to a great deal of interpretation. Sometimes the artist will choose a piece, sometimes Redden makes the choice, sometimes it is a collaborative effort. And the results are as eclectic as the Festival itself: From the austere to the flamboyant, each poster reflects the distinctive aesthetic of the artist and his or her own idea of what the Festival means. To Redden, the unpredictability of the process is part of its appeal. “It’s important for the Festival to constantly surprise its audience,” he explains. “I think it’s wonderful that the posters don’t fall into any pattern. Some are very accessible, others are more difficult, but the poster always generates a lot of conversation, and any time we can start a conversation about art, it is a good thing.”

Own a piece of Festival history: Purchase the 2013 poster online or at the Box Office at the Charleston Visitor Center, 375 Meeting Street.