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Frank Lloyd Wright and Benno Wissing ( 1952)

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One of the first projects and designs Benno Wissing did for the Boymans van Beuningen Museum must have been this Frank Lloyd Wright catalogue “fllw”. The year is 1952 and the chosen size is different from the normal sized catalogues the Boymans had published until that date. But the size and lay out suits the subject of architecture. This is one of the hardest to find catalogues on Frank lloyd Wright and i was lucky to find a copy. The condition is not the best possible and i would rate it 6 out of 10 points , but still it is there and now available at www,ftn-books.com. This is the best from both worlds. Great graphic design meets top class architecture.

 

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Gino Severini (1883-1966)

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Yesterday we spoke of Benno Wissing and today the subject is Gino Severini. The artists exhibition for who Wissing made an outstanding catalogue. The Gino Severini catalogue from 1963. A true classic in dutch design.

In 1963 Gino Severini was not that well known in the Netherlands, but the appreciation for modern art was becoming more clear with every exhibition being held in the Stedelijk Museum during the 50’s and 60’s. The Boymans museum presented this artist after they had acquired a clowns painting by the artist as was the same with the Gemeentemuseum who had TWEE HANSWORSTEN in their collection.

But these paintings are not typical for the artist because Severini is known for his futuristic and cubist paintings.

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So the exhibition was an excellent chance to show the diversity of this italian “dandy” artist who was a personal friend of Theo van Doesburg.

Severini paintings are rarely offered for sale and when they come on the block, they are getting more expensive with each auction. But beside their money value they are important in the development of modern art and the exhibition in the Boymans in 1963 was one of the first that showed his importance for Modern Art as we know it.

The Boymans Severini catalogue is available at www.ftn-books.com

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Benno Wissing (1923-2008)

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In the dutch museum and art scene there are some classical partnerships regarding the design of museumpublications. There are Willem Sandberg and Wim Crouwel who bot worked in different decades for the Stedelijk Museum. There is again Wim Crouwel and Walter Nikkels who worked for the van Abbemuseum. There are Donald Janssen and Gracia Lebbink who had their designs published by the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and there is Benno Wissing ( one of the founders of Total Designs) who worked almost exclusively for the Boymans Van Beuningen Museum Rotterdam during 3 decades.

Bernard (Benno) Wissing was a Dutch designer, painter, graphic artist and architect. He trained as a painter at the Art Academy in Rotterdam.

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He began his career in 1949 as a designer for the Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam under VP Ebbinge Wubbe. He designed catalogs and posters and established exhibitions. He was one of the founders of Total Design which he worked from 1964 to 1972.

Benno Wissing is for me one of the greatest names in dutch design, but still stands in the shadow of Crouwel and Sandberg. Undeservedly, because his designs are true ” classics”. Just search for Wissing at www.ftn-books.com and find some excellent examples of his truly great designs.

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Total Design (1963-2000)

This text was taken from the site ” MEMORY OF THE NETHERLANDS ” and gives an excellent idea what TD was.

The corporation Associatie voor Total Design NV, Total Design for short, was established in 1963. Until then, practically all major design commissions from Dutch clients had been contracted out to foreign agencies. There were no large design agencies in the Netherlands at the time. Total Design was established with a view to filling this unsatisfactory gap.

Total Design’s board of management in 1963; from left to right: Friso Kramer, Dick Schwarz, Benno Wissing, Ben Bos, Paul Schwarz and Wim Crouwel (photography: Jan Versnel)

The founders were Wim Crouwel (graphic design), Friso Kramer (industrial design), Benno Wissing (graphic and spatial design) and Paul and Dick Schwarz (organization and finance). Before long, Ben Bos, an experienced copywriter and designer, joined the team.

This mixed group had such wide ranging experience that it was able to execute complex ‘total’ commissions from a variety of clients in industry, trade and transport, and the government and cultural sectors.

Years of success
The 1960s were the most successful period for Total Design: its staff size increased enormously and the agency managed to hold on to various clients for a long time. Some of them, like Randstad and the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum, ( of which many books are available at www.ftn-books.com) were extremely loyal to Total Design.

In those years, other important clients were Schiphol airport, De Bijenkorf, Steenkolen Handelsvereeniging (SHV), including its oil division PAM, Stichting Kunst en Handel (Arts And Business Foundation) and the Peter Stuyvesant Collection of paintings; a major commission dating back to that period was the design of the Dutch pavilion for the 1970 Osaka World’s Fair.

Poster ‘Holland Nestival Finale’ for the Holland Festival, 1978 (design by Anthon Beeke, Total Design)

Changes
In the 1970s, Total Design underwent great changes. The agency received mainly graphic commissions and created many house styles.

The composition of the staff changed as well. Some important designers from the very beginning decided to leave the agency. Friso Kramer had left already in 1967; in 1972, Benno Wissing, Anne Stienstra, Hartmut Kowalke and the Schwarz brothers followed. Wim Crouwel, Ben Bos and Hans Wierda became the managers.

The agency’s intricate and obscure management structure was replaced by semi-independent design teams. As a result, a new generation of designers, trained by the agency itself, got a chance to prove themselves.

A period of less cohesive views on design and style dawned. Designers like Jurriaan Schrofer, Anthon Beeke, Paul Mijksenaar and Andrew Fallon introduced a lively and fresh approach to design commissions. Loek van der Sande was taken on as office manager. Work for the Dutch Post Office PTT, the Amsterdam city transport company, the Holland Festival, the Globe Theatre as well as for other clients began in the 1970s.

Total Design experienced many further changes in the 1980s and 1990s. Jelle van der Toorn Vrijthoff joined the management team in 1982. He championed young talent and in particular new techniques. Sometimes his views were diametrically opposed to those of the old guard. Wim Crouwel left Total Design in 1985, Ben Bos followed in 1990. They were the last two designers who had been involved with Total Design from the very beginning.

New orientation
Much had changed, also in the field of design. Total Design no longer had the renown of the early years. Many more design agencies had sprung up in the Netherlands through the years.

In 1988, Hans Brandt began to develop the design agency into a strategic communication agency. In de 1990s, Total Designed shifted from being a classic design agency to becoming an organization that put the emphasis on identity development, corporate branding and reputation management. In 2000, the name Total Design was changed into Total Identity.

An excellent story in the history of Total Design, but to see the true meaning of the TD office you have to experience and see their designs. Beside the Stedelijk Museum publications there are some special Total Design books available at www.ftn-books.com

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Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)

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Arguably the greatest architect of all time is Frank Lloyd Wright and the villa Fallingwater in Pennsylviania is one of the “must see” buildings i still have on my wish list. The Guggenheim Museum in NY i already visited but Fallingwater not.

FLW was a visionary architect. His designs were the very first modernist designs in architecture and very much based on constructivist principles. I just learned that as a child he build buildngs with FROBEL blocks and these wooden blocks must have been an endless source of inspiration. FLW was an architect whose designs were practically all executed in the USA, but that does not mean that one can not find FLW inspired buildings elsewhere. For instance, in the Netherlands his designs were admired by the DE STIJL mouvement and Dudok and van ‘t Hoff made buildings inspired by FLW.

A great architect and fortunately we had in the past decades several large exhibitions on his architecture and projects . One of the first was the exhibition in the Boymans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam in 1952. What makes it even more special is that it was one of the first designs Benno Wissing made for the Boymans museum.

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Wissing since 1952 has had a tremendous career and is, together with Sandberg and Crouwel one of the absolute great designers from the last century. So visit www.ftn-books.com and search for Frank Lloyd Wright or Benno Wissing and discover the many beautiful books both these great artist have made over the years.

 

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Karl Gerstner (1930-2017) – Kalte Kunst?

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Karl Gerstner

One of the greatest book designers recently died. Karl Gerstner died on the 1st day of this New Year.

If there was one iconic Swiss book from the late Fifties it is probably Kalte Kunst?

Designed by Karl Gerstner, this book has become an example to many. Look at the early Wim Crouwel designs….influence Gerstner. Benno Wissing…influence Gerstner.

Karl Gerstner is a contemporary designer who’s work is strong and clean, but full of details. Typography and design melt together into a publication which is modern and classic. One of the first of these publications was Kalte Kunst? in which the most modern artist from the fifties were invited to make a contribution, which was placed within the publication. Special prints, silkscreens and litho’s were bound in Kalte Kunst?

“Kalte Kunst?” (1957, 2 editions, both 1000 copies) was Gerstner’s first authored book where he advocates for a specific form of rational, geometric and mathematical art with examples from Josef Albers, Max Bill, Camille Graeser, Richard P. Lohse, Gerard Ifert, Mary Vieira and Marcel Wyss.

a great biography on gerstner can be found here:http://www.historygraphicdesign.com/the-age-of-information/the-international-typographic-style/256-karl-gerstner

A true classic and one of the only copies on the market at this time available at www.ftn-books.com together with some other Gerstner publications.