The Beethoven poster was designed in 1955 by Josef Muller-Brockmann. He is most known for his clean typography, simple designs and geometric shapes that he used throughout his work. This poster is perhaps one of Muller-Brockmann’s most celebrated designs.
Josef Muller-Brockmann was born in Switzerland in 1914 and was one of the main designers that established the international sensation of Swiss style in the 1940s and 50s. In his younger years he studied Architecture and the history of design at the university Zurich before going on to become an apprentice to the designer Walter Diggleman. He then opened his own design studio in 1936, specialising in photography and graphics. His work was mainly influenced by constructivism, De Stijl and Bauhaus deign. He was also the author of several books, which include The Graphic artist and his design problems and History of visual communication and grid systems. Along with writing, he was also a teacher and taught at the Zurich School of arts for many years.
Throughout his career he designed many posters for the Zurich town hall productions. He used grids in most of his work and was one of the first people to introduce this technique to Graphic design. This lead to other graphic designers following suit and this became a strong characteristic of the Swiss style. By using grids in his designs this allowed him to create clean and simple designs. In all of his work he aimed to communicate with the diverse population that lived in Switzerland in the 1940s and 50s. He done so with his carefully planned imagery and clear typography. An example of this is his schützt das kind poster, designed in 1953.
His Beethoven poster in perhaps one of his most famous designs. Since it was designed in 1955, design enthusiasts have analysed the angles and the precise placement of the arcs in this design. The arcs in the poster are placed by doubling the diameter of each arc . This creates a clean and clinical design which is an element of the swiss style. The uses of black and white, along with the careful placement of the arcs creates an imitation of a moving circle. This was done deliberately by Muller-Brockmann as it was a way of replicating the intensity of Beethoven’s music. There is no element of any of Muller-Brockmann’s designs that is not intentional, everything has a purpose for its placement and size. The mathematical process and clinical organisation of the design created a harmony that reflects the harmonys in Beethoven’s music. The poster explores the relationship between mathematics and design as well as mathematics and music due to its asymmetrical arrangement and use of grids. Muller-Brockmann also kept the typeface clean and precise which allows for the message to be read. It also allows for the poster to keep the precise arrangement of the other elements in the design. Overall, Muller-Brockmann’s Beethoven poster is effective as it communicates the dramatic nature of Beethoven’s music through simple imagery and the geometric rhythms that the mathematical arrangement of those shapes.
His contribution to the Graphic design industry didn’t go unnoticed. In 1987 the state of Zurich awarded him with a golden medal in honour of his contribution to design. All over the world he also held exhibitions displaying his work which was a huge success. It gathered attention from many culturally diverse areas as his work was exhibited in New York, Paris, Toyko, Berlin, Munich, London, Chicago and Stuttgart. The impact of Muller-Brockmann’s design had a worldwide effect as the popularity if the swiss style increased dramatically.
Overall, I think that the Beethoven poster uses precision and careful panning to effectively deliver that clean swiss-style. Josef Muller-Brockmann combined design and maths to create a poster that initiates the dramatic sounds of Beethoven’s music. This is an accomplishment that has inspired many other graphic designers and it has changed the relationship between Graphic design and other art mediums. Brockmann never allowed any of his designs to be influenced by other popular trends and instead followed his own personal style and creativity , which made his design so unique and effective.