graphis annual ‘59 part 1

in 1944 walter herdeg, a thirty-four-year-old zürich-born advertising designer, decided to launch an international design magazine which he called graphis after the greek word for a writing instrument. now, 61 years later, graphis has mutated into 3 separate trade journals; and graphic design, advertising, and photography are hardly in need of the nurturing which was impetus for graphis’ creation in the first place. in 2005 advertising design and photography are so agressively prevelant that the more natural desire might be the desire to shut them out. in any case back in graphis’ heyday their publications were pretty unique; the early annuals in particular are treasure troves of pre-computer design and illustration. i’m fortunate enough to own a couple from the late fifties and i’ve decided to share some of their contents.

first a note on the images- this group is all drawn from the 1959 annual. it is so packed with interesting stuff that i’ve decided to spread their presentation out over a series of posts. the following twenty are taken mainly from the first section of the book which covers posters with a few from the second chapter which covers magazine advertisements. still to come are book and magazine covers, record sleeves, animation stills, packaging, as well as work from the 1957 annual.

to start- some thoughts on advertising from the introduction by editor charles rosner (keep in mind this was written in 1959)

“advertising is a phenomena of our times. it’s increasing power, its influence on national life and its growing impact on the individual have given rise to a full day’s debate in the house of commons; and the wide readership- in particular by the lay public- of madison avenue usa, an analysis of the structure and function of advertising, clearly indicates it’s compelling nature. that its power is increasing is not only witnessed by steeply increasing expenditure, but also by inescapability.

mass advertising has a great singleness of purpose. retaining a firm hold on the general press, it moves into the territories of special media. with gathering speed it learns a new language, a new tone of voice; it attempts to outshine, both in word and image. the editorial contents of publications. each advertiser attempts to out shout other advertisers. but all the shouting and large promises have their limitations (...)

as graphis annual is the annual of advertising art, the more brutal projections of visual salesmanship are outside it’s scope. looking across the border, however, it is evident that the outbidding has reached a point of no return. it is possible that we are nearing a time when some of the big mass production advertisers will conclude that, having gone as far as it can, vulgarization alone is gradually losing its grip. when that time comes it is hoped that at least some of them will have the courage to go to the other extreme, looking for logic and artistic originality.”

sounds like some things never change doesn’t it? now here are twenty images from 1959 in no particular order. (click all for larger version)



massin / andre framcois. poster announcing an exhibition of works by mr. framcois.




phillip thomson. poster encouraging night visits to london issues by the london transport executive.




hans keplinger. tourist poster issued by town of linz.




werner klemke. east german poster for the film the golden spider.




michel gallay. swiss poster for natural fruit juices.




calestino piatti. poster for a swiss furniture exhibit.




ryuchi yamashiro / kiyoshi awazu. silkscreened japanese theater poster.




wim crouwell / kho liang ie. arts council exhibition of contemporary dutch art.




hans thoni. swiss poster to promote rail travel.




kenji maesawa. poster to promote a summer sale at a japanese department store.




as design team. poster for theater group from uruguay.




awazu hosoya. for japanese theater group.




giovanni pintori. poster for olivetti typewriters.




graham coughtry. program poster for canadian broadcasting.




giovanni pintori. advertisement for olivetti adding machines.




therese moll. trade ad for swiss watch components.




herman rastorfer. medical journal ad for itch relief product.




etsushi kiyohara / tsuyoshi takano. japanese life insurance ad.




arnold yarga / ben rose ad forcasting future uses for aluminum.




ben shahn. ad in professional veterinary magazine.


as i’ve said there are so many in each annual it’s hard to decide which to include. these all just struck me somehow. stay tuned for much more from 59 as well as selections from the 1957 annual as well.

all comments welcomed.

posted by jmorrison on 06/10 | sights & sounds - art | (3) comments | send entry