In 2004 Image Now Gallery hosted its first design exhibition: forty-eight posters, josef müller-brockmann. Over the course of its curation I got to know Josef’s work intimately and became intrigued by the magazine Neue Grafik, arguably the most important design journal of its day. Although I rarely saw between its covers (these were identical apart from the issue number), I dearly wanted to know more, to pore over the issues myself. But this was impossible: published in Zürich between 1958-65, the magazine ran for eighteen issues only, the last of which, was produced nearly fifty years ago.

In September 2013, I was in London to attend the AGI Open conference at the Barbican Centre, eager for insight and inspiration from the world’s greatest graphic designers. Lars Müller gave the President’s address, warmly welcoming members and delegates alike before coolly announcing that his publishing house, Lars Müller Publishers, would be reproducing in facsimile the complete set of Neue Grafik magazines. There, on screen in the Barbican, was an image of the full set itself, a monumental tome emblazoned with its unmistakable masthead. I was ecstatic, a state that entirely eclipsed the rest of the conference.

The work that featured in the pages of Neue Grafik signalled something of a ‘year zero’ for graphic design. This was more than just logical progression, this was a forceful reaction to what the editors perceived to be poor standards of quality. Through their own tenacity and deftness, they demonstrated that this new attitude had endless possibilities and universal applications. The attitudes that united the magazine’s four editors (Richard Lohse, Josef Müller-Brockmann, Hans Neuburg and Carlo Vivarelli) back in the Fifties have been apparent in every era since: a striving for products and communications that are pure in form and void of all decoration.

The ‘mathematical clarity’ Hans Neuburg claimed characterised their work could be used to describe so much good design today, not in a retro way, but in a vital, progressive way. This is just one form of design, however, and a reaction against this form was inevitable, given that new forms will always emerge. But what the editors of Neue Grafik believed in was more than a movement: it was, and is, a valid form of design. And one that I expect, will endure for centuries to come.

Richard Paul Lohse

Lohse profoundly influenced the development of constructive design in the forties and fifties. He pursued a symbiosis of art and design, most visibly in his design of the magazine Bauen+Wohnen. Lohse thus guaranteed the relevance of the examination of the movement’s design elements. His incorruptible verdict on the importance of social and artistic developments made him an authority, alongside Josef Müller-Brockmann, on the programmatic objectives of Neue Grafik, although his positions were much more ideologically rooted. Lohse wrote eleven articles for Neue Grafik.

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Josef Müller-Brockmann

Müller-Brockmann conceived of and instigated Neue Grafik. As a team player, he knew how to inspire his colleagues for this undertaking. He played an active part in various fields and was the catalyst for numerous pieces for Neue Grafik, although he only contributed three texts himself. His second career as a Constructivist graphic designer brought Müller-Brockmann virtually unparalleled international acclaim. He was renowned throughout the world as a designer, author, teacher and as the lead figure of the pioneering Swiss graphic designers. He might also be called the ambassador for the editorial team.

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Hans Neuburg

Neuburg was the most prolific member of the editorial team. Equipped with a journalist’s curiosity and writing skills he assumed the role of reporter, exploring a broad spectrum of different topics. In total he contributed thirty-six pieces to the journal and was instrumental in shaping its style. As a professional writer and a skilled graphic designer, he was the only member of the team who could earn a living from the fees he received for his work for Neue Grafik. Beginning with the second issue he was also responsible for the journal’s layout. His conciliatory personality kept the group together.

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Carlo Vivarelli

Vivarelli was the youngest of the four editors. He most neatly fit the archetype of the freelance graphic designer, with a small studio and clients in select industries. Entering logo and poster competitions was part of the studio’s bread and butter. His grounding in this real-world context gave Vivarelli a keen eye when it came to evaluating the commercial impact of the work submitted to Neue Grafik for review and publication. He set a high standard with his cover design and layout for the journal’s first issue. Vivarelli contributed just two articles to Neue Grafik.

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Image Now Gallery invites you to celebrate the reprint of the iconic Swiss graphic design magazine Neue Grafik by Lars Müller Publishers.

Image Now Gallery October – November 2014

Buy the complete volumes here:

As an exercise I thought it would be interesting to ask a number designers and educators today this question:

Image Now Gallery
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