Anton Stankowski in Paris, 1955
Exhibition | 23.02.2007 - 21.04.2007


Aspects of his Oeuvre
On the occasion of the one hundredth birthday of Anton Stankowski (1906–1998), a large-scale retrospective will provide sweeping insight into the fine and applied art by this artist and designer. This retrospective, which has been assembled by the Stankowski Foundation in Stuttgart, will be shown in the Neues Museum Weserburg Bremen after stations at the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, the Haus Konstruktiv in Zurich, and the Josef Albers Museum Bottrop.

Born in Gelsenkirchen as the son of a miner, Anton Stankowski discovered his affinity to painting very early on. After studying with Max Burchartz at Essen’s Folkwang School, in 1929 Max Dalang had him come to Zurich to work in his famous advertising studio. This marked the beginning of a crucial period, during which Stankowski developed his photographic and typographic work into a prototype of a contemporary advertising style—the now legendary Swiss Industrial Design.

Stankowski forged important friendships in this period, amongst others with Hans Neuburg, Richard Paul Lohse, Max Bill, Verena Loewensberg, Alois Cariget, and Hans Corey. After his work permit was withdrawn, he returned to Germany in 1938, stopping in Lörrach on the way. He founded his graphic design studio in Stuttgart, which he continued to run even after the “lost war years.”

Stankowski also quickly connected up to the leading personalities in the visual movement in Stuttgart, such as, for example, Willi Baumeister, Max Bense, and Egon Eiermann. It was not lastly due to his activity that Stuttgart became the stronghold of graphic design over the course of the fifties.

Particular mention should be part of the artist and designer’s extraordinary versatility. Stankowski’s oeuvre comprises a large number of painterly, photographic, and sculptural works. His graphic concepts—pictograms, typographies, and corporate identities—not only had an enormous impact on graphic design, they also had a lasting influence on everyday visual life in Germany. We still encounter his ideas on the street, for example in the form of the Deutsche Bank’s logo or the typefaces for REWE and IDUNA.

In Bremen, the focus of the large-scale Stankowski retrospective will be placed on spatial works and the close relationship between art and everyday life, which becomes manifest here. Stankowski’s concept for a music room will also be implemented, as will the design of a large mural and the surface of an elevator door.

What becomes palpable time and again is the obvious proximity of his designs and his choice of color to the twentieth-century artistic avant-garde. There are formal parallels to both Russian Constructivism, Bauhaus, and the De Stijl movement, as well as to the influences that came (back) to Europe from the United States, such as Hard Edge and Minimal Art. The exhibition at the Weserburg, whose collections also present the last-mentioned art movements, will inquire into formal affinities, into relationships and influences. What is fascinating about this show in Bremen is the interrelatedness between fine/autonomous art and Stankowski’s advertising art (which argues with a Constructivist vocabulary).

Also on display will be a comprehensive selection of Stankowski’s remarkable photographs, posters, photograms, corporate logos, and concepts for the Deutsche Bank, but principally his autonomous painting, surprising even to connoisseurs, and his geometric paintings and sculptures, which at the time amazed Donald Judd.

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