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PKZ by Herbert Matter

Herbert Matter PKZHerbert Matter’s poster of a bellhop admiring an overcoat is one of the rarest and most beautiful in PKZ‘s prestigious series. In its sophisticated Art Deco style, it shows the strong influence of Matter’s training in Paris with Cubists Fernand Leger and Amedee Ozenfant. Just 21 years old, Matter would stay in Paris to work with Cassandre on poster design and Le Corbusier on architectural projects. His return to Switzerland in 1932 marked a turning point for Swiss graphic design in its assimilation of Modernism.

For over 60 years the Zurich clothier PKZ teamed with the leading printer J.E. Wolfsenberger to produce Switzerland’s greatest poster series. Marked always by the richest textures and tones seen in lithography, the series featured all of the best Swiss poster artists, from Baumberger and Cardinaux to Matter, Birkhauser and Stoecklin. Given enormous artistic freedom, each artist was allowed to interpret the PKZ man or PKZ look as he saw fit.

Worry Bags No Game – Vintage Insights for Contemporary Challenges

Worry Bags no Game, Mather Work Incentive

During these tough economic times, my mind invariably comes back to a 1929 Mather work incentive poster above my desk that puts things quickly in perspective. Worry Bags No Game is a terrific reminder that challenges need to be faced head-on, focusing on what you can do – and not on what you can’t.

Printed in Chicago between 1923 and 1929, the Mather work incentive poster series were designed to improve worker productivity and reduce turnover during a time of economic expansion and plentiful jobs.  While the posters can be seen as workplace propaganda or camp Americana, they are perhaps most importantly viewed as a visual expression of the idealism and optimism of the rising nation. President Calvin Coolidge pithily summed up in two sentences the ideology of the era in his 1925 speech to the society of American newspaper editors: “The chief business of the American people is business … The chief ideal of the American people is idealism.”

Evoking the courage of hunters like Teddy Roosevelt, this poster inspired workers and managers alike – and seems as relevant today as in the Roaring Twenties.

Stone Age Man – The Birth of Stone Lithography

Karcher Lithographers

Paris printer using stone lithography, ca. 1925. Artists or master lithographers would transfer designs to stone using a grease pencil. The design was fixed with acid, and the stone could then be inked with one color and run through the press. Most jobs consisted of four colors (yellow, red, blue and black) which required four stones, as seen here.

February 26 marks the 177th anniversary of the death of Alois Senefelder (1771 – 1834). All poster fans owe a debt to Senefelder, a German actor and playwright. It was while seeking an inexpensive way to publish one of his plays that Senefelder developed stone lithography, the technique of printing an image multiple times using a set of specially prepared stone plates. It was this discovery, refined by Jules Cheret in the 1860s and 1870s, that eventually made possible the exuberant color and rich textures that characterized the “Golden Age of the Poster” from 1890 to World War II.

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Beautiful, Rare & Meaningful Posters from around the Globe.