Rene Wanner's Poster Page


front cover Jean Widmer, a devotion to modernism
catalogue of an exhibition curated by Philippe Apeloig at the Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography in the Cooper Union School of Art, New York NY (US), from February 24 to April 5th, 2003; 96 pages, 17 x 24 cm, about 100 color illustrations; softcover; in english

The cover shows some of the many logos that Jean Widmer designed

The swiss graphic designer Jean Widmer who lives in Paris, is best known for his logo for the Centre Pompidou. Philippe Apeloig, who designed the catalogue, considers Widmer to be of the same significance as Paul Rand, although he is far less well known.

The catalogue includes texts by Robert Rindler, Dean of the Cooper Union School of Art, Philippe Apeloig, Margo Rouard-Snowman, and a long interview / discussion between Widmer and Apeloig, which not only sheds light on Widmers way of thinking and working, but also on Apeloig's interests. He pokes around at length in Widmer's swiss roots, and is clear that young Apeloig (b. 1960) and old Widmer (b. 1929) share an interest in swiss order, simplicity, discipline, and in logos.

I have a personal interest in Jean Widmer as both of our lives have been shaped by a man whom we can not thank now as he has died a long time ago: Fred Schneckenburger, the once famous poster collector who sold his 15'000 posters in 1955 to the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Zuerich for 50'000 swiss francs (then about 200'000 US$). Schneckenburger's role in Jean Widmer's life is scetched only very briefly in the catalogue, so let me give you a little more detail; I have it from the book Jean Widmer, graphiste, un ecologiste de l'image which was published on the occasion of Widmer's large 1995 retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris:

Schneckenburger and Jean Widmer's father were both working for the same company in the small swiss town of Frauenfeld, and one day Fred met young Hans, as the boy was called then, while he was buying raspberries from mother Widmer's garden. Schneckenburger took the obviously talented young man under his wings, showed him his poster collection, convinced his parents to send him to art school, and the rest is history, and well documented in the catalogue.

My own involvement with Schneckenburger is less direct, but equally far reaching. Growing up in Zuerich, I must have heard as a boy about the traveling salesman Schneckenburger who picked up posters during his business trips all over the world and finally became rich and famous with that collection. What a life, I thought, and became an international poster collector too, and a living proof of the power of role models.

Here are some of the posters from the catalogue:

1972, Tools, exhibition in Paris

1980, Kieler Woche is a yearly sailing festival in Kiel (DE)

1991, personal exhibition in Villeurbanne (FR), with the famous Centre Pompidou logo

and some pictures from the current exhibition at the Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography that Philippe Apeloig sent me:

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