• Steven Heller

A Master of the German Modern Logo

Max Körner (1883–1963) was a painter and German trademark designer. From 1913 to 1921 he was a teacher of visual design and crafts at the School of Applied Arts in Stuttgart, and along with Wilhelm Deffke, he mastered the modern logo.

Gebrausgraphik called him “one of the most characteristic and original figures among German commercial artists.” Beginning in 1921, he held a professorship at the State School of Applied Arts in Nuremberg and was director of the applied graphics masterclass. From 1945 to 1948 he temporarily directed the Ellingen Academy until Fritz Griebel took over. Among Körner’s students was the painter Richard Lindner. Körner also published Monograms, Initials, Trademarks, Publisher’s Marks, Characters and Ornamental Letters (circa 1950), a collection of bold, modernistic examples of the Germanic style.

As Gebrausgraphik details, his work represented a “new romanticism” that “in its form … frequently approaches the boundaries of the grotesque.” Even his ornamental work for packaging and wrappers showed the joy of color and “his sure feeling for the spacing of surfaces” displays his masterful touch. Gebrausgraphik further notes that “striking and simple” are Körner’s trademarks and business signets.

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