What would it be of French visual culture without the contribution of Swiss designers who suddently emigrated to Paris? The answer at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich.
The Museum für Gestaltung presents the exhibition “Les Suisses de Paris”, putting the spotlight on the work of major Swiss graphic designers in Paris. These designers introduced radical innovations to the city’s graphic arts scene and created a lasting impact that is still perceptible today.
From the 1950s onward many Swiss graphic designers and typographers followed the call to Paris. Most were educated young men from German-speaking Switzerland who went to Paris in search of artistic inspiration, to escape the insularity of home and, above all, for work. While an older generation still dominated the small Swiss market, in Paris they were welcomed with open arms. Lured by the prospect of exciting work in warehouses, agencies and publishing companies, Paris, unlike Switzerland, also offered a national academy of fine art.
With their modern training, technical knowledge and craft skills the Swiss were able to impress their employers and make themselves indispensable in teaching. Not only did they transmit the basic principles of the ‘Swiss’ or ‘International Style’, they also reflected current trends such as op art, pop art and new wave. The exhibition focuses on 22 key figures, all of whom either spent many years in Paris, settled there permanently or are still active in the French capital. The most famous pioneers of the new wave of graphic design include Peter Knapp, Jean Widmer, Adrian Frutiger and Albert Hollenstein.