Graphic Design Collection

The Collection of Graphic Design contains 100,000 posters from around the world and 150,000 individual sheets of applied art in the graphic medium. The collection includes a few extraordinary rare font and illustration examples from illuminated manuscripts dating from the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, typeface designs and fine-press books from the late 15th century to the present day, working proofs of book cover designs, original bindings and dust jackets, preliminary sketches, and trial proofs for book illustrations. These items were often acquired in close cooperation with the Collection of Book Art and Media Art as a means to supplement it.

In addition, the collection contains numerous bookplates, playing cards, calendars, record covers, all manner of commercial printed matter such as celebratory prints, birth announcements, mourning cards and obituary notices, advertising material, infographics, as well as decorated papers, cut-outs and silhouettes which found their way into the collection as commemorative prints or book illustrations. The boundaries between graphic design and art and literature are often fluid, which is exemplified above all in the collection’s holdings of visual and concrete poetry, Fluxus art, and Mail art.

The centre of these diverse groups of objects, which not only include individual sheets but also books, is formed by three distinct private collections: the Reichardt collection (acquired in 1979), the Hanns Sohm collection (1999), and the Daher collection (2000). The Marzona Collection – and in particular its archive of posters, flyers, artist documents and books on art, primarily from the 1960s – compliments the holdings of the Collection of Graphic Design and the Collection of Book Art and Media Art. An important area in the collection is made up by graphic design from the world of commerce, specifically corporate design, as exemplified in the holdings of works by Ernst Paul Weise, Anton Stankowski, Herbert Kapitzki, and Karl Duschek’s estate acquired in 2012.

The collection of sample prints of various graphic printing processes including the photographic began as far back as the 19th century. Early illustrated placards were acquired as examples of modern, large-scale colour lithographic printing and the birth of a new medium. The special interest in the poster is reflected in a rigorous collecting activity in this area that has remained unabated since 1892. Key areas in this regard are early placards from France, Belgium, England, and the United States from the period 1880 to 1914, including poster designs by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Alfons Mucha, Jules Chéret, Edward Penfield, the Beggarstaff brothers, German posters from 1890 to the present day, Swiss posters from 1900 to the present day, Polish posters of the 1950s to 2000 and artist’s posters after 1945. Since 2007 we have been fortunate to receive regular donations from the ggg gallery in Tokyo,  which is sponsored by the Dai Nippon Printing company (DNP); our collection of Japanese posters is thus being continually expanded as a result. The collection boasts extensive holdings of works by individual graphic designers, among them Lucian Bernhard, Julius Klinger, Ludwig Hohlwein, and Edmund Edel, and more recent designers, such as Hans Hillmann, Michael Engelmann, Frieder Grindler, Holger Matthies, Gunter Rambow, Günther Kieser, Gert Wunderlich, Helmut Brade, Volker Noth, Nicolaus Ott and Bernard Stein, Herbert Leupin, and Niklaus Troxler.

All collection objects are stored at the Kulturforum and are available to view in the Kunstbibliothek’s study room. For some objects prior registration is required.