Rene Wanner's Poster Page

BOOK REVIEW


book cover, 3k 100+3 Swiss Posters selected by Siegfried Odermatt


Editor and designer S. Odermatt, Odermatt & Tissi; Waser Verlag Zuerich (1998); 180 pages, 103 color reproductions, 23 x 23 cm, hardcover; ISBN 3-908080-49-5; 68 CHF (about 42 US$); in german, french, english

Self-taught graphic designer Siegfried Odermatt, one of the great old men in swiss posters, started collecting them when he was only 16. Now, at age 72, his collection has reached about one hundred, and he felt the time had come to show them to the world in the form of a book and an exhibition, adding three of his own posters.

The work of 49 designers is presented, together with their photographic portraits, a detailed biography and a sample of their signature (from letters, not from posters). The book is sprinkled with articles by his colleagues, Paul Bruehwiler for example, or Domenic Geissbuehler, Karl Gerstner and Wolfgang Weingart, to name a few.

Reading the book gave me a feeling that I was attending an imaginary insider meeting where Odermatt speaks to his colleagues, his teachers, his idols, or his partner Rosmarie Tissi, silently telling them what he admires and what influenced him, by leafing through their posters one by one.

The selection is therefore highly personal, and not necessarily representative of swiss poster design in the second half of the century. Typography plays a dominant role in almost all of the posters that are included, not surprising for anyone familiar with the work of the Studio Odermatt & Tissi. Indeed, Wolfgang Weingart recounts in his article that "Odermatt's world of signs and symbols made such an impact on me that my typographic consciousness underwent a complete transformation in 1960". Only a few of the younger generation, like Niklaus Troxler, Stephan Bundi or Roger Pfund found admission to the Odermatt collection.

Poster, 4k
Meister der Plakatkunst
1959, Siegfried Odermatt
Poster for a poster exhibition at the Kunstgewerbemuseum Zuerich (this was Odermatt's first poster)
Poster, 4k
Sommertheater
1981, Rosmarie Tissi
Poster for a theater festival
in Zuerich
Poster, 7k
Teo Jakob, Bern / Geneve
1990, Roger Pfund
Exhibition poster

A special treat are the dated photographic portraits that Odermatt painstakingly dug out. While many of the poster illustrations can now be found in standard works or auction catalogues, portraits are less well known. Young Hans Falk at 26, wild longhaired Troxler, dreamy Hans Erni at 33, the book shows many of the designers at about the same time the posters in the book where created.

This small, handy volume has the same size and excellent make-up as the previous one from the Waser Verlag, on Odermatt & Tissi, and I wish it commercial success and am looking forward to a crowning third piece.


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