The Basel and the Zurich School

Important stimuli for the development of commercial art and the world-famous Swiss poster art came from the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts (Kunstgewerbeschule), which offered a course in “graphic art” from 1906 and a course in applied graphic design from 1918.

The vocational school (Allgemeine Gewerbeschule) in Basel, offering courses for commercial design, typography and printing as well as applied graphic design from 1915, produced outstanding artists, including the Swiss masters of poster design. For a long time, Basel was considered the epitome of the illustrative style, with teachers such as Theo Ballmer and Emil Ruder for typography, Max Bill and his “Concrete Art” exhibition, and Armin Hoffmann from 1946.

Individualist artists such as Burkhard Mangold, Niklaus Stoecklin, Peter Birkhäuser, Fritz Bühler and the earlier Herbert Leupin are the epitome of the Basel School with a strict graphic concept of typography and a rigorous style of graphic design. In the unique poster oeuvres of artists such as Stoecklin and Birkhäuser, profound changes in conception, style and advertising approach can be detected between 1920 and 1950. Zurich is considered the epitome of the constructive style with artists such as Ernst Keller, Richard Lohse and Josef Müller-Brockmann.

In Switzerland, a very distinctive poster style developed, which can certainly be seen to have a part within a wider international art historical context.

Vintage posters from our selection