Exactly 101 years ago, Ernst Growald, director of the Hollerbaum & Schmidt printers in Berlin, put his finger on one of the maxims of good poster design: “Don’t make a novel out of a poster, because no one wants to get cold feet on the street.” This year, too, the results of the competition 100 Best Posters 10. Germany Austria Switzerland, hold in store all manner of surprises, with a multitude of illustrative examples that are bizarre and brilliant, humorous and/or witty. This competition is regarded as an important indicator and benchmark of current poster design in the D-A-CH region. 53 of the 100 prizewinning posters come from Germany, 45 come from Switzerland and two are from Austria.
100 BEST INTERNATIONAL POSTERS FROM THE MAK COLLECTION This year’s showing 100 Best Posters 10. Germany Austria Switzerland is framed by a historical retrospective of the 110 years during which the MAK poster collection has been compiled. The development of the poster collection reflects a key aspect of the history of international design from 1890 to 2010, conveyed in the striking idiom of the poster itself. The collection’s core is formed by a group of 48 Belgian, French and Italian posters which were purchased at the 1900 Paris World Fair: from that point onward, this group of works was to serve as both a motivator and a guideline for the collection’s focus on the international vanguard of poster art. Works by Jules Chéret, Henri Cassiers, Adolf Hohenstein, Alfons Maria Mucha and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec represent milestones in the development of the modern art poster. And in the 1920s, Hans Ankwicz-Kleehoven—who was the MAK library’s director at the time—received further valuable input from poster collector Julius Paul, who not only donated 50 posters to the museum in 1927, but also participated in the exhibits’ logistical, museological and curatorial care.
The exhibition reflects the strengths and balanced breadth of the collection, which ranges from artists’ posters of the Belle Époque and Art Deco (both committed to l’art pour l’art) to the innovative ideas of the “commercial artists” of the 1920s and ’30s, and on to the occupational profile of today’s graphic designers. The works on display also include examples of the German political expressionism of the November Group of 1918 and a number of Russian Constructivist works. A key focus of the exhibition is on posters of the German Werkbund.
Curator Peter Klinger, Library and Works on Paper Collection
Catalogue "100 Beste Plakate 10. Deutschland Österreich Schweiz /
100 Best Posters 10. Germany Austria Switzerland." With contributions by Elvira Barriga, Erich Brechbühl, Stephan Bundi, Peter Klinger, Claude Kuhn, 2xGoldstein und Oliver Sachsse. German/English, 217 pp., Verlag Hermann Schmidt, Mainz 2011, € 34.80.
The current scholarly focus of the MAK Library and Works on Paper Collection is on the systematic organization, study and online publishing of the entire collection of graphic works at the MAK. This project is being made possible by generous support from the “Legacy of Joseph and Carla Binder.”