Rene Wanner's Poster Page


front cover The graphic art of Michael Schwab
with texts by Steve Heller, Merrill C. Berman and Denise Urell; Published by B. Martin Pedersen, Graphis Inc, New York (2000); 172 pages, 133 full page color illustrations, mostly posters and some logos; 24 x 31 cm; hardcover; ISBN 1-888001-96-8; in english; US$ 60.00
$$$ Buy it now from!
front cover Michael Schwab
Photo by Kathryn Kleinman, Michaels "muse and goddess"

What a relief! After being bombarded increasingly with posters that are addressing me as a potential racist, water polluter, child molester, or job killer that has to be called to order, I finally found one that tells me in simple graphical and textual language that "Bread is made for laughter and wine gladdens life", quoting from Ecclesiastes 10:19. Another poster from the same source, softly encouraging me to "Recycle or die" (printed on recycled paper of course), is also definitely more seducing and humorous than aggressive.

More works like that can be found in Michael Schwab's new book, and they are all remarkably conservative in style and content, strong, fresh, and well balanced in color. The book - and also Schwab's excellent web site - is as clearly structured as the posters and logos it contains. It starts with an introductory essay by Steve Heller, who points to the roots of Schwab's art in the early german object posters by Lucian Bernhard. As the examples below show however, traditional does not necessarily mean old-fashioned, and Schwab's posters radiate a californian joy of life that is definitely absent in Lucian Bernhard's.

1991, Recycle or die
for the American Institute of Graphic Arts AIGA
(the Polaroid studies of "Mother Nature" on which this poster is based are shown in the book)

1997, Bread is made
for laughter and vine
gladdens life
for Un Ete du Vin, American Cancer Society

1997, Stinson Beach
for Golden Gate National Parks Association

1998, Shattuck Avenue Lofts, Berkeley
for Panoramic Interests

1999, Aerobleu

There is no biography (Michael Schwab was born in 1952 in Oklahoma and now has his studio near San Francisco), no list of exhibitions, prizes, clients and so on, but much of this can be found on his website, from where many posters can also be ordered. Although the purists may disagree, I personally find it annoying that there are no figure captions, and the information has to be dug out at the end of the book, but I blame that on the publisher who is notorious for his choices in the tradeoff between esthetics and readability. Otherwise, this is a very enjoyable book that whetted my appetite for more of Schwab's posters.


Website of the Michael Schwab Studio
Buy the book from Graphis, 48$
Buy the book from Amazon, 38 to 42$
Golden Gate National Parks postcard book
Another review of this book with more pictures

home   other reviews  page last revised on July 25, 2001 / this section is part of Rene Wanner's Poster Page /