Herbert Matter – A Matter of Posters



Contributor to: Graphic design in the 20th century

Two of the finest art collections of medieval graphics reside in a small village high in the Swiss mountains.  Engelberg also the birth place of an extraordinary graphic artist known for his Graphic Designs, Photography and Posters.  Medieval art may have contributed to the styles adopted by Herbert Matter in earlier days, however, given the time as being a more than limited visually marketing period Herbert Matter set out to change all of that by adopting photography methods to social modernism.

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The time is 1907, the  year european Herbert Matter was born and destined to do great things.  In 1925 he studied art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Genva for two years until modernism became an attractive pursuit.

Paris was the place to be in these extended expressive graphical times,  Herbert Matter attended the Academie Moderne under the tutelage of Fernand Léger and Amédée Ozenfant. In his late twenties and early thirties Herbert expressed a talent in multiple scopes of creative tools for example: photography, graphic design, journalism, were all revolutionary, however,  it was through his experimentation with Rollei as a design tool and expressive form that shaped a never ending relationship with Matter.

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As one can imagine, Herbert Matter was indeed a very colourful and distinguished artist with a long history of sound employment, awards and presentations. However, turning the focus now onto the main topic of POSTERS Herbert Matter was offered a roundtrip passage to America in 1939 for payment of his commissioned work by the Swiss Ballet Troupe.  When the work was over he remained in New York.

Matter soon began taking photographs for Harper’s Bazaar and Saks Fifth Avenue. He affiliated himself with a photographic studio “Studio Associates”, located near the Condeé Nast offices, where he produced many of his finest works.


During World War II, he made numerous striking posters for the container corporation of America. In 1944 he also became the design consultant at knoll, creating a graphic identity for more than 12-years.

In a nutshell Herbert Matter was good at everything he tried to do. From 1958 to 1968 he was the senior design consultant for the Guggenheim Museum, he applied an elegant typographic style to their posters and catalogues many of which are still in print today.

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