The graphic design course blog for
HND Visual Communication at Edinburgh College

Herbert Bayer @ bauhaus archiv

4 February 2014

Our visit proved to be a highlight of the Berlin trip. The archive's permanent collection boasts an amazing range of design covering architecture, furniture, photography and of course graphics. But the real attraction was 'Werbegrafik 1928-1938' - the work of Herbert Bayer, a former Bauhaus pupil who went on to become one of the most important graphic designers of the 20th century.

Bayer studied under Kandinsky and Moholy-Nagy, and became director of advertising at the Bauhaus in Dessau. During this period he designed the geometric sans-serif Bayer Universal, and a serif called Bayer Type, both of which feature prominently on the posters, pamphlets and magazine covers in the exhibition.

Also on show are some of the banknotes Bayer designed during the Weimar era of the early 1920s, when Germany suffered hyper-inflation. These included a 2 million, 10 million and a mind-boggling 50 million Mark note.

In 1928, Bayer left the Bauhaus to become art director of Vogue magazine's Berlin office, and the exhibition focusses on his advertising design from this period, all featuring brilliant typesetting and inventive colour and composition in the Bauhaus style. More controversially, we also get to see examples of Bayer’s propaganda work for the Nazi regime, such as “Das Wunder des Lebens”, (used as this exhibition's promo poster), “Deutsches Volk, deutsche Arbeit”, and a 1936 book cover for the Hitler Youth movement. The exhibition ends with posters from the Gebraushgrapik, a festival of design in 1938 which featured his final pieces of work before he emigrated to the USA.

The only disappointment about the show for us was that the Bauhaus don't allow the use of cameras, but we did manage to take Bayer outsider for an unofficial photo-shoot!

A good Herbert Bayer Gallery (on pinterest)
Herbert Bayer Werbegrafik 1928-1938 Bauhaus Archiv, Review - (New York Times)