Christoph Niemann, the visual storyteller, is a sought-after graphic designerin the USA as well as in Europe.
Born in Waiblingen (Baden-Württemberg, Germany) in 1970, he soon found success in New York, where he moved in 1997 after finishing
his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart. Alongside commissions to design covers for THE NEW YORKER, The New York Times, and the technology magazine WIRED, Niemann works for Google, Herman Miller, and MoMA. He returned to Germany with his family in 2008 after eleven intensive
years in the Big Apple. At the same time, his work became increasingly global. He still draws for his American clients, while
concurrently working for German publications including at the ZEITmagazin, as well as for many other clients in Europe and Asia.
In his works, Christoph Niemannwho once described himself as a politics and news junkieaddresses current
affairs like the US arms policy or the Fukushima catastrophe, but visualizes comparably mundane situations such as a sleepless
night, a visit to the Art Biennale in Venice, or a transatlantic flight. My images are not only intended as illustrations,
but should also be thought-provoking. He attaches great importance to the self-explanatory factor of graphic portrayals;
text is used sparingly to add pointed emphasis to the content depicted. In this way, Niemann places everyday scenes and visual
clichés in new and occasionally ludicrous contexts, offering viewers new perspectives. As a result, he makes it possible to
discover the poetry in the everyday, the irony in the familiar, and the tragedy in the banal.
For the execution of his ideas, he not only combines traditional pen and pencil with digital tools, but also with materials
such as dough, leaves, bills, or toys. He places everyday objects like paper clips, coat hangers, coffee cups, and salt shakers
in free association in unexpected and sometimes ironic contexts. Additionally, he writes and illustrates books for adults
and children, as well as engaging with new media by creating apps, interactive games, and computer animations.
Niemann made headlines in 2013 with his piece Brooklyn Bridge, in which two hands create the world-famous New York landmark with a piece of string, like in the popular childrens
game cats cradle. The German Federal President Joachim Gauck presented a screen print of this work to US President Barack
Obama during his visit to Berlin in 2013. With its pointed statement, Brooklyn Bridge is representative of Niemanns
reductive tendency and correct balance between proportion and color. The book project I Lego New York is comparable, in which he recreates typical New York scenes with the small, abstract bricks. One of his latest projects
is the illustration of Erich Kästners Es gibt nichts Gutes, außer: Man tut es (Atrium Verlag, 2015). In this book, Niemann illustrates the texts and reinterprets the relationship between language and
Christoph Niemann is connected to Austria through his work for the Vienna-based law firm WOLF THEISS, which regularly advertises
in the Austrian daily newspapers Der Standard and Die Presse with subjects by the Berlin-based graphic designer. These reductive illustrations, which promote the services offered by
the firm with a great deal of irony and subtle humor, become branded on the memory of their viewers and will be easily recognized
by the Austrian audience.
Curator: Kathrin Pokorny-Nagel, Head of MAK Library and Works on Paper Collection/Archive
The MAK Library and Works on Paper Collection is one of the largest and oldest museum libraries with a focus on applied art.
Alongside classic library functions, the collection is also devoted to artistic aspects of the pictorial in all possible variants
as well as to the initiation of a reappraisal of art production manifested in paper form.