Architect Exposition- Poster Design Research Modernism and Postmodernism.

Modernist Posters

The modernist poster was created before the use of digital programming software such as Adobe Photoshop and thus computers, so the designer used traditional printing techniques. This type of poster used strict rules, creating a machine-like impression when the outcome is achieved . The typical typefaces used in modernist posters were Franklin Gothic and Helvetia. Modernism used structured grid systems with an emphasis in negative spaces. Where as post-modernist posters were created using digital techniques on the computer where Adobe Photoshop was being installed in studios. This meant the posters being produced on the computer broke down the structured grid that underlies modernism.

Printing techniques that were used to print and create these posters before the use of computers was a process known as phototypesetting which was invented in the early 1960’s  but other printing techniques featured using the letterpress.

Josef Müller-Brockmann: Modernism 1940’s-1960’s



Josef Müller-Brockmann was a graphic designer and teacher at the Zurich school of arts and crafts from Switzerland. Several design and art movements such as constructivism and suprematism influenced him and his posters . He became one of the most well known designers when talking about this period of modernist posters and Swiss design and typography.

The Beethoven poster made by Josef Müller-Brockmann looks like a layout of the seating arrangement where an orchestra plays, music hall or a vinyl record and Beethoven’s name is placed where he would either conduct or play the piano in the middle of the music hall.

Posters around the 1940’s – 1950’s were created with a combination of lino printing and using the letterpress. Linoprints allowed for a higher contrast of bold letters and a higher contrast of colours. To create a lino-print a indent is made in the lino paper to create a stencil like-effect and then ink is rolled onto the lino and then the lino is flipped over and pressed down onto paper; a print is then created on the piece of paper.

Letterpress Printing raises the parts of the print that wants to be printed up from the base plate and ink is placed on this part and is then placed onto paper to make a print. This method of printing became less popular as the typefaces were limited as only a few fonts were available to use for this method of printing.

Armin Hoffman


Armin Hoffman is very influential in the development of the Swiss graphic design. His design emphasizes cleanliness and readability. He uses the use of asymmetric grid layouts and the use of photography in place of illustrations and drawing as the modernist belief was that photographs were much better in portraying a sense of reality than illustrations and drawings.

This belief is a key characteristic that differs from the style of post modernism.This poster uses the typeface of Helvetica and uses clear wording. A grid system was used for the text which gives a sense of how the bits of information of the poster relates to each other. The grid system also gives a sense of order and structure which cannot be said for post modern posters, as post modern posters did not use the grid system.

The ‘Requiem’ Poster uses a typeface icon of a music related icon and a photo of an ear, these link together denoting that music and hearing are interconnected and go together. This method of incorporating photography was an efficient method of getting across the intended message/purpose of the poster.


Post-Modernist Posters

Post-modernism began to stray away from traditional printing techniques such as Lino-print and the letterpress, and began to use more modern techniques using the Mackintosh as software such as photoshop were being installed in offices and in design studios and workshops. Therefore many of the design processes took place using computers and software. Many of the typefaces and grid systems changed and designer started to use bolder colours, and were beginning to loose the structure that the grid system provided.

Barbra Kruger


Barbra Kruger used to work as  a designer for a magazine. Her own unique style uses pre-existing images and pasting type onto it. This method gets her message across simply and effectively.

Barbra Kruger’s work is an example of postmodernism as her posters, such as this one, use no strict grid system for the typefaces. This allows for the text to look free and not confined on the page. She uses bold text along with bold colours to convey her political views. The words placed on the subjects face addresses the viewer along with the juxtaposition of the black and white print with the bold red colouring. Kruger uses geometric shapes which was something rarely seen in modernism work. Her work features photography and collages which is a feature to post modernism.

Wolfgang Weingart 



Weingart used offset printing, to design posters that is now known as post-modernism design. These posters showed complexity and creativeness. He used different typefaces that had never been used in poster design before, such as Memphis and Retro. The grid system that underlined the work of modernism was now becoming less common to see being used in the work of post-modernism now that Photoshop was becoming the ‘height of technology’. Using a grid seemed outdated and tended to confine the typefaces on the pages and the sense of order that it provided was being discarded. More commonly post-modernism combined photographs along with type faces, as the advance in technology now allowed for the combination of different mediums.

Word Count: 910


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