Modernist maven: Lecturis present a new monograph on Dutch icon Wim Crouwel

Modernist maven: Lecturis present a new monograph on Dutch icon Wim Crouwel
Modernist: Wim Crouwel is published by Lecturis and designed by the feted Dutchman Lex Reitsma. The typefaces used on the contents pages and cover are Gridnik medium and Vierkant, both designed by Crouwel. Pictured right: Crouwel during the work on his own retrospective at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum in 1979
(Image credit: press)

In the new publication Modernist, Dutch author Frederike Huygen revisits Wim Crouwel's work, going into greater depth to understand the methodology and philosophy behind one of the greatest minds in modern graphic design.

It is a sequel to the first monograph, Wim Crouwel: mode en module, which she co-authored in 1997. Intended to open up a discussion on a global scale. This book, unlike the first, will be published in English.

In summing up the importance of her compatriot's work and his contribution to the modernism movement in the 20th century, Huygen says: ‘Crouwel has been a strong advocate of [Swiss] modernism since the 1960s, to such an extent that the movement has become synonymous with Dutch design.’

‘Indirectly,' she adds, 'Crouwel is also responsible for the reactions to modernism and the lively design climate in the 80s. His seminal works such as the 'New Alphabet' (1967) have became an icon and received a lot of renewed attention in the digital era.’ 

The book has been arranged thematically rather than chronologically. It begins with an in-depth introduction of Crouwel’s approach to modernity and modernism, illustrated by a photographic biography, which leads into his inception as a designer during the post-war period of recovery and reconstruction. His interest in Swiss typography led to the setting up of Total Design in the early 1960s, and heralded an important era in the designer’s life, when he began his three-decade-long collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum. This is an important section of the book, exploring Crouwel’s influence in the public sector and looking into the designer’s personal interpretation of art. ‘This period testifies to his incredible versatility, inventiveness and sensitivity,’ says Huygen.

Crouwel demanded a critical book rather than something that was little more than a catalogue of his work, and Huygen has not disappointed. Taking the reader through the second decade of Total Design, she analyses the criticism and challenges that Crouwel encountered at a time of changing opinions in both the industry and the public. Assessing the reasons for Crouwel’s international popularity since the 1990s, the author also addresses the problems associated with the term ‘modernism’.

‘I hope that we can look again with fresh eyes at Crouwel and at modernism,' she concludes, 'which has for so long suffered from cliches.’

Modernist maven: Lecturis present a new monograph on Dutch icon Wim Crouwel

Wim Crouwel wears a silk space suit and jewellery by Alice Edeling at Total Design in 1969 in this portrait by Paul Huf, used for the poster of Crouwel’s exhibition at the Design Museum London in 2011

(Image credit: press)

Modernist maven: Lecturis present a new monograph on Dutch icon Wim Crouwel

Posters and information sheets of Crouwel’s exhibition at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum from 1957 and 1963, respectively

(Image credit: press)

Modernist maven: Lecturis present a new monograph on Dutch icon Wim Crouwel

Crouwel joined the Academie Minerva in 1946. The art school – located in Holland’s first modernist building – was designed by Jan Wiebenga and Leendert Cornelis van der Vlugt in 1922

(Image credit: press)

Modernist maven: Lecturis present a new monograph on Dutch icon Wim Crouwel

Pictured left: Crouwel and Will van Sambeek designed this brochure and leaflet for Osaka; Shigeru Watano was responsible for the Japanese logo. Right: Crouwel sitting against a background of his wallpaper, with one of his rugs at his feet, during the London Design Museum retrospective in 2011

(Image credit: press)

Modernist maven: Lecturis present a new monograph on Dutch icon Wim Crouwel

Installation shot from Crouwel’s exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in 1979

(Image credit: press)

Modernist maven: Lecturis present a new monograph on Dutch icon Wim Crouwel

A marquee made from scaffolding material, with brick pillars and paving stones in grey, red, green, yellow and blue was used to house the ’Etappe 1945–1955’ exhibition showing post-war reconstruction in the Dutch city of Den Bosch

(Image credit: press)

Modernist maven: Lecturis present a new monograph on Dutch icon Wim Crouwel

An invitation card designed by Dutch studio Experimental Jetset for Crouwel’s exhibition at the Galerie Anatome in Paris in 2007

(Image credit: press)

Modernist maven: Lecturis present a new monograph on Dutch icon Wim Crouwel

Pictured left: the cover of Wim Crouwel: mode en module, a 1997 monograph on Crouwel’s work, designed by Karel Martens and Jaap van Triest

(Image credit: press)

Modernist maven: Lecturis present a new monograph on Dutch icon Wim Crouwel

Pictured left: Crouwel’s grid for the Stedelijk catalogues. Right: Crouwel’s modernism was expressed in countless collateral for the Stedelijk Museum. The Stedelijk posters were all printed at the Stadsdrukkerij, Amsterdam’s printers

(Image credit: press)

Modernist maven: Lecturis present a new monograph on Dutch icon Wim Crouwel

A three-dimensional grid marks this calendar for 1977

(Image credit: press)

Modernist maven: Lecturis present a new monograph on Dutch icon Wim Crouwel

Pictured left: a 1969 show poster for Dutch artist Lucebert. Right: a 1966 show poster for French artist Bissière

(Image credit: press)

INFORMATION

Modernist: Wim Crouwel, by Frederike Huygen, €49,50, is published by Lecturis (opens in new tab)