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Pierre Mendell: Posters from the Vignelli Center for Design Archives

Thursday, September 4, 2014 to Friday, December 19, 2014
September 4, 2014 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
Pierre Mendell was one of the world’s leading graphic designers. For almost 30 years he played a role in creating the visual identity of Neue Sammlung–the International Design Museum in Munich. Over a period spanning more than 40 years Mendell’s posters became a prominent feature in advertising columns and billboards around Munich, including posters for the Neue Sammlung and advertisements for the Bavarian State Opera.

German-born graphic designer Pierre Mendell (1929 - 2008) had a turbulent early life, moving from his hometown of Essen, Germany to the Netherlands, on to Paris, down to Marseille and eventually across to America following the liberation of France by allied troops in 1945. In 1953, he returned to France where he worked in the family’s textiles company. In 1958, he enrolled at the School of Design in Basel where he started studying graphic design under Armin Hofmann. Here, Mendell learned his future trade and met a large number of people that he would go on to work with throughout his career.

Mendell established the Mendell & Oberer studio with Klaus Oberer, in 1961, in Munich. Mendell went on to define a whole generation of printed promotional material for cultural institutions all across Germany. His powerful use of color and reductive compositions earned him a reputation as one of the world’s foremost graphic designers.

For over 40 years, Pierre Mendell’s posters strikingly accentuated Munich’s cityscape, where his designs covered advertising pillars and billboards. His work is characterized by elements which are often missing in much of contemporary graphic design: vibrancy, communicative force, poetry, and humor. His cultural posters and corporate design identities, including his designs for the Die Neue Sammlung – The International Design Museum Munich and Bayerische Staatsoper – The Bavarian State Opera, are timeless and contemporary. The success of his designs demonstrate that the strength of all graphic design work depends on an overarching concept, not on current fads.

“Quality graphic design stands out for the mindset it exhibits: stringent, reduced in form, always intense, never pretentious. In this way, Pierre Mendell developed a most distinct style. He flexibly dealt with particular tasks and through this, eminently lived up to the challenge of respective themes. Hence, Pierre Mendell’s posters are so simple and convincing and will continue to be of great significance beyond this day.” (Florian Hufnagl, Die Neue Sammlung – The International Design Museum Munich)