Rene Wanner's Poster Page


front cover Ein Jahrhundert im Weltformat Schweizer Plakate von 1900 bis zur Gegenwart

Catalogue of an exhibition at the Kunstbibliothek Berlin 2001.11.02 - 2002.01.27, curated by Anita Kuehnel, with texts by Bernd Evers, Anita Kuehnel, Andrea von Hegel, Ines Hettler; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin (DE) (2001); 136 pages, about 150 color illustrations, many full page, 19 x 24 cm; softcover; ISBN 3-88609-454-5

The cover is based on the poster "Schweizerware" by Carlo Vivarelli

The Kunstbibliothek in Berlin has a collection of maybe 5000 swiss posters, possibly the largest and best outside of Switzerland, and now shows 231 of them in an exhibition "Ein Jahrhundert im Weltformat", a title which refers both to the size (90 x 128 cm) and the international standing of swiss posters. I have not yet seen the exhibition, but if it is as good as the catalogue ( and knowing the curator Anita Kuehnel I have not the slightest doubt about that ), it is indeed a hit.

What I like about this publication is

  • the concentrated, balanced, factual language, and a style of argumentation that I can easily follow.

  • The partition of the large text material into digestible junks, like typography, photographic posters, the reception of swiss posters in the german literature, or the question if "the swiss poster" is really so rigidly constructed as many think, or the difference between the so called "Zuerich school" and the "Basel school".

  • that the text and the posters to which it refers are mostly on the same page or close, and easy to find with the index.

  • that the author illustrates her ideas about swiss posters not only in textual but also in pictorial language (look at the double spreads below!) To pick two or three posters out of 5000 and group them together like that is an art in itself, in my opinion.

  • the layout by Hans Spoerry. In the preface, the head of the Kunstbibliothek, Bernd Evers, calls Spoerry's work, with a bit of typical friendly german amusement, "a la swiss made". But after sifting through thousands of catalogue pages to extract information for the Poster Bibliography, I appreciate book designers for which readability and structure is a goal, and not a challenge to demonstrate their originality.

  • Finally, I appreciate that top works are exhibited side by side, unlike in many other publications or shows, for reasons unknown to me. Much to my regret, I don't think I have ever been in the same room together with a Troxler, a Stoecklin, a Leupin, a Cardinaux, a Mueller-Brockmann, an Armin Hofmann, and a Herbert Matter. For a few weeks, the organizers made that possible.
It would be worth a trip to Berlin, and I am very grateful that Anita Kuehnel and her colleagues organized that exhibition and wrote that catalogue!

Posters by Niklaus Troxler (left) and Niklaus Stoecklin (right) Posters by Niklaus Troxler, Bruno Monguzzi, Ruedi Wyss, and Georges Calame (from left to right)
Posters by Walter Kaech, Walter Diethelm, Robert Buechler, Armin Hofmann (left, cw) and Karl Gerstner (right) Posters by Armin Hofmann (left) and Joerg Hamburger (right)

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