18 November 2019


Book Launch “West Berlin Grafik-Design”

Text: Jörg Stürzebecher


Jens Müller (Hrsg.)

A5/09 West Berlin Grafik-Design

Optik Books

152 Seiten

€ 28

ISBN 978-3-00-063546-5



A new volume in the A5 Graphics Series has finally appeared after a long break. It looks at graphic design in West Berlin between the building of the Wall in 1961 and the opening of the inner-German border in 1989. There is no shortage of illustrations here – there are over 500 of them – although they include many small-format logos and illustrations from book series. It also has personal portraits, of Jürgen Spohn for example, or of the lesser known Volker Noth and Jack N. Mohr, and presents the first German corporate design for a city: Anton Stankowski's Berlin Layouts, and Erik Spiekermann's designs for Berlin's public transport services – two complex communal graphic endeavours. However, the way the graphics have been divided up and placed side-by-side, means the individual aspects do not provide an overall picture, especially not as far as the selection in this volume is concerned, nor given the importance it is given. Even if it is the outcome of a course taught by the editor Jens Müller, a regional graphic history of those years must surely include more range and also more important things: such as Hans-Adolf's and Ruth Albitz's work for the Academy of Arts;  Helmut Lortz's and Herbert W. Kapitzki's conflicting teachings at the HfbK, today's UdK; the graphic design of Wagenbach's early quarto editions from 1965 onwards; the juxtaposition of graphic art by Merve and Brinkmann+Bose; work by Jürgen Holtfreter and Ernst Volland, following on from the 1920s with John Heartfield, and Sarah Schuhmann's graphic art for the feminist magazine Courage. Other work, such as that by Rudolf J. Schmitt, is mentioned and presented in the section, but is not analysed. Uncritical texts, interviews and statements replace reflection; an illustration of the 1950s satirical magazine Tarantel is inexplicably included on the inside fold of the cover without any explanatory text. Thus, the information that the volume probably wants to offer is not actually given. Further, the e-mail dialogue between Müller and Bernard Stein printed at the beginning – something that is currently fashionable and is usually edited– complete with harmonisations and vanities, really doesn't help; still further, the absence of obvious references – for instance in the case of Christian Chruxin, to whom the design of the book “Klau mich” is ascribed, to the monograph by Holger Jost – does not contribute to the usefulness that the series, with its format and its rich contents, leads one to expect.


Book launch of A5/09 West Berlin Grafik-Design with Volker Noth, Roland Matticzk, Erik Spiekermann, Bernard Stein, 22 November 2019, 18.30-20.30, analog Concept Store, Potsdamer Str. 100, 10785 Berlin


Nº 284
Region of Design

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