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Collection of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Josef Müller-Brockmann

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Josef Müller-Brockman (1914-1995) was a pioneering force in the Swiss school of graphic design and one of the most internationally respected members of his design generation. The Swiss style grew out of European and Russian modernist graphics including constructivist, French modernist, Futurist, Dada, De Stijl and Bauhaus. Because Switzerland remained neutral during World War II, it was able to to continue the exploration of modern graphic design. After the war, Muller-Brockmann and his colleagues expanded on early modernist design ideas to formulate a strict set of conventions for the use of photomontage and typography within a mathematically based grid layout. Because Müller-Brockmann taught at the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts (from 1957) and published many books detailing the elements of the Swiss graphic style, what began as a local movement soon grew into an international style whose influence can still be found in contemporary graphic design, particularly in areas of public signage, institutional graphics and corporate identity programs (Vignelli, Chermayeff and Geismar, April Greiman, among others).