TheSkimmseum: There’s (not) a New Serif in Town

Welcome to theSkimmseum. We’ve skimmed the news around the museum, and want to share the highlights with you.


Skimm’d while practicing my Michael Phelps face.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Second place is the first place loser.” -Dale Earnhardt and my parents


CITIUS, ART-IUS, FORTIUS


the STORY

In 1972, twenty-seven international artists were selected to create posters celebrating the Olympic Games held in Munich, Germany. Rather than promoting specific events, the posters only allude to the Games, reflecting the contemporary work of each individual artist.

CAN I SEE ONE IN PERSON?

Soon to be on display in the museum’s Sandy Bell Gallery is a poster featuring the art of Horst Antes. The poster depicts a gnomish Kopffüßler or “Head-Footer”–a recurring character in Antes’s works since the 1960s. If you don’t know what a Head-Footer is, your intuition that it is a head with feet is correct. The iconic figure is pictured towering above a golden podium marked with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places. Olympic colors appear between the figure’s legs, and a ladder vanishes into the background. The ladder and podium’s stepped form could be references to the Hopi architecture that fascinated Antes. Antes could not have known that the 1972 Olympics would be remembered less for athletic feats than for terrorism. The figure seems almost prophetic in its solemn grimace: an all-seeing observer of international triumph and tragedy.

TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE DESIGNS

According to our fantastic new curator, Hadley Jerman, several posters from the collection reflect the “International Typographic Style” (ITS), also known as the “Swiss style” of design. This comes as no surprise since several of the artists, like Max Bill, were also prominent graphic designers. The International Type Style gained prominence after WWII, and like cork-soled platforms and Ziggy Stardust, ITS was thriving by 1972. ITS designers sought to create ‘neutral’ layouts–designs that did not evoke any specific nationality or vernacular style. Think: the opposite of Lily Aldrige’s patriotic angel. These designers achieved neutrality through the use of sans serif typefaces (especially Helvetica), black and white photography, and abstract (geometric) illustrations organized on an underlying grid. They’d probably have a pretty awesome Instagram page. As for the posters from our collection, the rigid layout with sans serif type along the bottom is classic ITS design. In fact, the images on some of these posters seem to be as inspired by the International Typographic Style as they are by the Olympic Games–just check out Max Bill’s, Piero Dorazio’s, and Eduardo Chillida’s posters below to see for yourself.

ARE ALL THE DESIGNS SIMILAR?

Nope. The posters reflect each artist’s recognizable, individualistic style. It’s easy to spot the more illustrative posters in the series that seem to offer an almost psychedelic approach to image making compared to Bill’s and Albers’ more geometric approach. The poster designs by Otmar Alt, Horst Antes, and Hundertwasser are anything but expressionless.

WHY ARE THESE POSTERS STILL RELEVANT?

Not only did the Munich Olympics forge relationships between art and sport through posters, but the Games marked a significant milestone in design history. It represented one of the first times that designers created a visual identity system for an international event that was applied across all materials–from signage, to posters, to maps–that could be understood across cultures and languages. The concept of branding for an event is so commonplace in today’s world that it’s hard to imagine an Olympic Games without a consistent graphic scheme. Otl Aicher and his design team created the visual identity for the 1972 Olympics. The whole project fell right in line with the tenets of the ITS conceptually and visually–in fact, our curator believes the underlying layout of these posters (with the sans serif text at the bottom) was Aicher and his team’s design. Comparing his design to the posters, this seems like a pretty reliable theory.

SHORT STORY

We have in our collection 27 beautiful posters used for the 1972 Munich Olympics. One of them will soon be on display in celebration of this year’s Olympic Games, so stop by and check it out. In the mean time, enjoy perusing the digital versions below!

Antes Horst

IMAGE CREDIT | Horst Antes, Germany, b. 1936 | Olympic Poster, 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1971

 

Adami D'Arangelo Allen

IMAGE CREDITS
Left: Adami Valerio, 1935| Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972
Middle: Allan D’Arcangelo, U.S., 1930-1999 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Gift of the Olympic Committee, 1972
Right: Allen Jones, England, b. 1937 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1971

Alan Hockney Chillida

IMAGE CREDITS
Left: Davie Alan, England, 1920-2014 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972
Middle: David Hockney, England, b. 1937 |Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1970 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Gift of the Olympic Committee, 1972
Right: Eduardo Chillida, Spain, b. 1924 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972

Albers Lenica Hundertwasse

IMAGE CREDITS
Left: Josef Albers, U.S., b. Germany, 1888-1976 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972
Middle: Jan Lenica, 1928-2001 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972
Right: Friedensreich Hundertwasser, 1928-2000 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972

Kokoschka Wunderlich Phillips

IMAGE CREDITS
Left: Oskar Kokoschka, Austria, 1886-1980 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972
Middle: Paul Wunderlich, Germany, b. 1927 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972
Right: Peter Phillips, England, b. 1937 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972

Lapicque Lawrence Marini

IMAGE CREDITS
Left: Charles Lapicque, 1898-1988 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972
Middle: Jacob Lawrence, 1917-2000 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972
Right: Marino Marini, Italy, 1901-1980 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972

Piero Winter Hartung

IMAGE CREDITS
Left: Piero Dorazio, Italy, 1927-2005 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1971
Middle: Fritz Winter, U.S., 1905-1976 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972
Right: Hans Hartung, 1904-1989| Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972

Shusaku Otmar Max

IMAGE CREDITS
Left: Shusaku Arakawa, U.S., b. Japan, b. 1936 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1971
Middle: Otmar Alt, Germany, b. 1940 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972
Right: Max Bill, Switzerland, 1908-1994 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972

Soulange Smith Kitaj

IMAGE CREDITS
Left: Pierre Soulages, b. 1919 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1971
Middle: Richard Smith, England, b. 1931 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972
Right: Tom Wesselmann, U.S., b. 1931 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Gift of the Olympic Committee, 1972

Pliakoff Victor

IMAGE CREDITS
Left: Serge Poliakoff, 1906-1969 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1972
Right: Victor Varsarely, Hungary, 1906-1997 | Untitled (Olympic Poster), 1972 | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Purchase, 1971
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