Donald Brun: Master of the Object Poster
November 2, 2012 12:19 PM   Subscribe

The legendary Swiss graphic designer Donald Brun (1909-1999) was a master of the Object Poster (where the image is paramount in selling the product), an artform that thrived in the early and mid-20th Century before cheaper paper and printing and distribution methods made it virtually obsolete. Brun's work is marked by humor and whimsy, bright bold colors and shapes, a wide variety of graphic styles (although it is often compared to classic children's book illustrations), and animals.

His Bata Poster ("Run like a grasshopper") is often considered to be among the best of these object posters, but modern viewers are often drawn to these yarn-advertising cats. I'm fond of this beaver and these two roosters.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. If a nicely curated sampling of posters isn't enough, this Swiss Catalog of Brun's work (in French) is awesome. The Museum of Design in Zurich also has an excellent archive. And of course, he pops up on Tumblers fairly often.

Finally, briefly, Brun on his career and process.
posted by julen (7 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh this is pretty handy because I love this style but wouldn't really have known how to google it without a specific product example, which of course I can never think of when I am at a computer.

GAZ is my underdog fave.
posted by SharkParty at 12:28 PM on November 2, 2012


The legendary Swiss graphic designer Donald Brun (1909-1999) was a master of the Object Poster (where the image is paramount in selling the product), an artform that thrived in the early and mid-20th Century before cheaper paper and printing and distribution methods made it virtually obsolete.

I'm not quite getting the connection here. Did the advertisers stop using posters to promote their wares because cheaper alternatives (mass market magazines?) became available?

If so, why wouldn't the style just carry over to the new, cheaper methods?

Great posters, regardless.
posted by notyou at 12:38 PM on November 2, 2012


Changes in technology allowed for more cheaper, more complex and realistic reproductions, pushing the simplistic and illustrative out of favor.
posted by The Whelk at 12:51 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


If it will help even more, SharkParty, the German term for Object Poster is sachplakat (it was invented around 1900 in Germany). The Swiss graphic designers really liked it because as a philosophy of design (more image, less text) it worked well in a society where people spoke 4 different languages.

Ah, notyou, I see I edited down the post too much! These classic posters were relatively expensive to make - heavy lithographic stones, expensive inks, high quality paper, many assistants, longer processes, less wiggle room for mistakes. ... Mass production made processes cheaper and less labor-intensive. New methods were easier and quicker than making the lithographs - and could use cheaper ink and paper and fewer people. These new methods sacrificed quality of execution for larger runs for far less money.

So the overall style would carry over, but the quality and precision of the execution was extremely hard to maintain in the more cost-efficient production methods that produced far more prints. So they began to adapt designs to the strengths of the new methods like photography and silkscreen.
posted by julen at 12:51 PM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sweet post- thanks, julen! My life-long love of the graphic arts owes a lot to Brun's delightfully evocative work. Thanks too for sachplakat- nice to have the original moniker for this style.
posted by Phyllis Harmonic at 1:00 PM on November 2, 2012


Very cool find. I was reading through the early Tiny Kitten Teeth comics last weekend and really marveling at the vivid midcentury art style -- looks like Brun's work was an influence.
posted by trunk muffins at 2:20 PM on November 2, 2012


I love him. I have been saving up for a Zwicky poster for about nine million years.
posted by OolooKitty at 7:29 AM on November 3, 2012


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