The Daily Heller: Julius Klinger Commands Poster House’s Current Exhibition

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I have written a considerable number of essays on the progenitors of Plakatstil (poster style), Sachplakat (object poster) and Berliner Plakat (the group of designers from Berlin). I've also penned a few stories on the work of Julius Klinger (including this interview with a Klinger historian and another piece about the U.S. exhibition of Klinger's work that began in 2017 at the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach).

Now through Aug. 15, the exhibit Julius Klinger: Posters for the Modern Age, newly designed with additional items and support materials, is on view at Poster House in New York City. A virtual tour is also available on May 14 from 3–4 p.m.—but if you are able, do your best to visit in person for the most impactful experience.

Klinger was not the most famous of the era's poster maestros, but his artistic reputation is nothing to disregard. His work fit nicely in the early-Modern aesthetic of the early 20th century. It was built on the strength and range of his designs, notes Poster House's Angelina Lippert, "which often shared a signature style characterized by graphic simplicity and directness—whether in the form of illustrations, graphic ornament, or his most famous posters."

Klinger was a pioneer as a designer-artist for industry. "An advocate of 'Americanismus,' and the progressive attitudes towards modern business and media … he understood the power of modern trademarks and logos to give identity to major businesses and manufacturers, and was a leading figure in shaping the look of major brands." Through Klinger’s productive—though tragic—life, and examples of his work on view here, this exhibition explores "issues of identity—personal, corporate and national—as well as the impact of cultural displacement on the history of design, and the role of commercial art in the modern city."

Photographs by Stephanie Powell

To help guide you through your visit, Poster House has generously prepared a free booklet on the styles, mannerisms, movements and schools of the period; now you will never have to embarrassedly ask a guard about the difference between Art Nouveau and Jugendstil, or what Plakatstil is, again.

Also on view in the downstairs gallery of Poster House is Freak Power, which documents the campaign posters designed for alternative culture journalist and '60s/'70s rebel icon Hunter Thompson's run for sheriff of Aspen, CO.

Both exhibitions are smartly designed by Ola Baldych.