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Dokumenta 1955. We walked through the rubble of Kassel in Germany only to be blown away by a fantastic show of art in this museum. It was here that I discovered Max Beckmann and the German Expressionists, along with so much more. I took the photo because of the terrific posters and how full of life and excitement they were in contrast to the somber mood of the architecture however much it might have been spared from the Allied bombing raids of World War II.
Coat of arms of the city of Zurich designed by Keller.
Ernst Keller (1891-1968) was a giant in the pantheon of great Swiss graphic designers. From 1918, at the age of 27, through 1956 he taught students in Zurich's famous Kunstgewerbeschule, or School of Applied Art, so well that he can be called the father of the Swiss school of graphics. The birthplace was the Swiss National Exhibition of 1939 in Zurich. A shy man who shunned personal publicity, he avoided a recognizable style preferring instead to approach each design challenge within the requirements of its individual needs.
Willy Rotzler writes of him in Graphis 184 in 1976 that "He was instilled with the belief that every piece of graphic design ought, over and above the its immediate purpose, to be an improvement of our visual environment. It the final analysis it was this fundamental ethical principle that lent lasting value to the work of his pupils, making Swiss graphics not merely the name of a style, but a seal of quality."
Well, amen to that. That is totally the opposite of what copiers of that style have done. My pet peeve is setting English language copy in three blocks of text just because the Swiss have done it. Hello? They have to do it because they speak three languages in that small country.
Keller's adaptation of Swiss cantonal coats of arms for the facade of the Swiss Life Insurance and Pension Company building in Zurich. He actually cut and carved these designs in wood prior to fabrication.
Poster for the Reitberg Museum of Zurich created by Keller as a five-color linoleum print. Thanks to Walter Herdeg's Graphis 184 for the bottom two images above and selections from the text of ERNST KELLER. The Pioneer of Swiss Graphic Design.