Friday, September 25, 2009

Second Choice for Vislang Project #2

Fashion is Design; in this case of the Hermann Scherrer Tailor company, fashion truly is design and is designed well. This is one of a multiple series of advertisements to promote Hermann Sherrer’s sportswear. Designed in 1907 by Ludwig Hohlwein, this poster, of the Reinhold Brown Gallery Collection is a tastefully classic example of early modern design.
A Jack-of-all-trades, Ludwig Hohlwein was one of the most seminal figures in graphic design and a crucial influence on the historical art of posters. This German native set the bar for elegant and tasteful use of image and type working harmoniously together. Hohlwein was born in Weisbaden, Germany but settled in Munich or “M√ľnchen” at the turn-of-the-century. At first, he was a free-lance interior architect and painter; he then changed his focus to commercial art and poster design which eventually lured him entirely into advertising. We are told that he avoided recreational drinking as a student in favor of sports such as horseback riding and hunting. His study of architecture was soon dismissed in favor of illustration which is responsible for a great deal of his fame & success. Although Hohlwein was completely self-taught in graphic design, his work and style is heavily influenced by the Beggarstaff Brothers (a group of English poster artists). Hohlwein’s combination of mastering illustration, architecture, and advertising has promoted him to the ranks of the greatest proponent of Plakatstil.
This poster contains a standing male figure who is appropriately dressed for an equestrian sport and carrying a saddle in his right hand and a whipping stick in his left. A bull dog accompanies his right leg and is being looked upon by his owner. They are symmetrically placed within this vertically rectangular composition and are flooded with a stark, green background. A cream colored, rectangular block of stacked type occupies  our upper left corner and appears to be a fusion of a serif typeface and Hohlwein’s own popular hand-lettered family. The german text reads “Hermann Sherrer, Bridges Maker (or pants maker), Sporting Tailor, Munich, Neuhauserstr Street 32.” It relays basic information of service and location. Although this poster implies basic advertising, the equestrian sport is some what expensive and takes much skill to learn. This portrays an upper-class, professional athlete wearing a specific brand of clothing to represent his level of popularity and style.  
This image clearly represents the Ethos mode of appeal, it is the persuasion of the viewer through credibility of the author, designer, or in this case celebrity. The poster very subtly says “be a professional like me by wearing these clothes.”
Hohlwein beautifully pulls away from the Art Nouveau ornamentation of flourishes but respectfully keeps the same color palette and clears the picture plane of claustrophobic busyness. He strips down the typical Art Nouveau composition and minimizes the number and balance of image and type. Within such a flat Plakatstil design, he carefully gives the poster depth by introducing the new element of texture. The rider’s  pants are created by using actual fabrics and patterns of black & white squares. This adds a new dimension and draws the viewer or audience, of the average joe, in to experience the unexperienced. This piece is clearly marketed towards the lower-to-middle-class because it has to persuade them to buy something they know little about, in contrast to the upper-class whom already purchase clothing like this on a regular basis and posses a great deal of knowledge of such luxurious things. He utilizes a flat stark background and graphic illustration style to put emphasis on the fabric element. He balances the geometric figural forms which are symmetrically positioned with the organic hand rendered type, asymmetrically placed to create dynamic tension throughout to give the viewer a comfortable experience that is quick and easily understood & read.

(Heller and Chwast Graphic Style Pg. 75)

Here are some other works of his from the same series and some that aren't.

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