Print, Power, and Persuasion: Graphic Design in Germany, 1890-1945 examined the rich history of German graphic design and traced its role in the emergence of modern commercial print media during politically turbulent times. It presented new ways of thinking about graphic design in relation to key trends of the modern age—tradition versus modernism, nationalism versus internationalism, and artistic versus commercial values.


During this time, many of the design strategies employed in Germany had parallels in other industrialized nations eager to exploit the new forms of mass media. The graphic arts evolved as an essential element of the urban experience, transforming how business and government communicated with the public. In this context, the exhibition’s areas of focus included design reform and the graphic arts, commercial graphic design, modernism and the new typography, and the politics of graphic design during and between the First and Second World Wars.


Drawn from The Wolfsonian-FIU’s renowned collections, the exhibition featured more than 50 posters and books, periodicals, and photographs by Joseph Maria Olbrich, Herbert Bayer, El Lissitzky, and Jan Tschichold, among others. Supplementing the exhibition were a selection of decorative arts objects, including furniture, glass, metalwork, ceramics, and textiles.


The exhibition was organized by The Wolfsonian-FIU and on view at Bard Graduate Center from May 23–August 26, 2001. It was curated by Jeremy Aynsley of the Royal College of Art, London, and Wolfsonian curator Marianne Lamonaca.