Cover image for Graphic design in Germany : 1890-1945
Graphic design in Germany : 1890-1945
Aynsley, Jeremy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
240 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm.
General Note:
Exhibition presented at the Wolfsonian-Florida International University, Sept. 27, 2000-Apr. 29, 2000.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NC998.6.G4 A96 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



German graphic and typographic design in the first half of the twentieth century represents an extraordinarily rich and diverse aspect of the history of visual culture. It marks the moment of recognition that the world was becoming increasingly dependent on a modern and commercialized system of communication in which the designer was to play a major role. An unprecedented scale of attention was devoted to printed matter, whether as designs for graphic ornament, typefaces and logos in books and advertisements, or magazines, posters, signage, and exhibitions. Jeremy Aynsley has written the first account in English of the emergence of German graphic design between 1890 and 1945. Based on many years of research and original material, this handsome book is lavishly illustrated with examples from across a stylistically varied field.

There were many good reasons for Germany to lead in the field of print culture. Historically it was a country that had been associated since the Middle Ages with the arts of the book and printing, and many of the new design developments in the twentieth century grew from that base. The spectacular industrial and commercial boom following the Franco-Prussian War, when the Germans became world competitors, stimulated interest in the field of advertising, whether in newspapers, journals, or on sidewalk kiosks. Perhaps borrowing in the beginning from the Arts and Crafts movement in Britain, Art Nouveau in France, and the advanced advertising designers in the U.S., the German artists soon developed a style of their own that was aggressive, aesthetically adventurous, and well constructed to attract customers.

While some of the individual designers such as Peter Behrens, Lucian Bernhard, Jan Tschichold, Herbert Bayer, and John Heartfield are well known, many others have not received such attention. Aynsley provides an amazingly well-rounded picture of this burst of innovation that changed the face of modern life, as well as of the politically and socially turbulent era that spawned it.

Author Notes

Dr. Jeremy Aynsley is Course Director in the History of Design at the Royal College of Art, London.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Graphic Design in Germany is an important book. It makes a valuable contribution in tying together the several impulses of German design: the Arts and Crafts movement, the Bauhaus and other "revolutionary" directions, and the authoritarian control of the State during the Weimar Republic. Aynsley (Royal College of Art, London) accomplishes this in economical, clear prose, well chosen and excellently reproduced illustrations, with printing and binding of equal quality. Especially valuable in this book, and what sets it apart from others, is the equal weight given to "non-modernist" German approaches such as the book-oriented typographers of the early century and the representational artists of the 1930s. The result is a broad survey of all the various currents of German graphic design art: an approach that provides an insight into the cross-fertilization that happened there before WW II. Aynsley is balanced and acute in his discussion of the competing artistic movements and the industrial and political forces that produced them. The book is written at a level that makes it ideal for the undergraduate student, a good starting point for the graduate student, and a welcome addition to the research scholar's library. Undergraduates through professionals. S. Skaggs University of Louisville

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 6
1 From Applied Art to Graphic Design 1890-1914p. 10
2 Behrens, Bernhard and Ehmcke: Three Models of Graphic Designerp. 58
3 Modernism and Graphic Art Education: the Bauhaus and the Reimann School 1919-1938p. 86
4 Forces of Persuasion: Magazines, Exhibitions and Associationsp. 118
5 Style and Ideology: Nazification and Its Contradictions in Graphic Design 1933-1945p. 178
Conclusionp. 212
Notes to the textp. 218
Bibliographyp. 225
List of Illustrationsp. 233
Picture Creditsp. 239
Author's Acknowledgmentsp. 239
Indexp. 240