13 September 2019 until 1 March 2020
New Graphic Design from the Netherlands

Poster design has developed in several different directions in recent years. Digital layout and printing techniques enable almost anyone to design posters without major effort and to distribute them on a massive scale. But more and more professional graphic designers are taking a stand against this mass phenomenon. Although they take advantage of the versatile possibilities offered by digital image editing, they draw on traditional techniques such as screen printing to print their work in high quality. Among those embracing this approach are the two Dutch graphic designers Harmen Liemburg (b. 1966) and Richard Niessen (b. 1972), who once worked together as “Golden Masters”. They experiment in their works with bold colors, recurring forms and text fragments, using them to create fascinating and sometimes dizzying all-over structures that hold extraordinary expressive power. In the exhibition All-over. New Graphic Design from the Netherlands, the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) presented some 70 posters and over 30 small-format prints by the two designers spanning the past twenty years.

Harmen Liemburg finds beauty in seemingly trivial things such as traffic signs, company logos or packaging and uses these often fleeting constellations for his works. In his designs he alienates and recombines image and text fragments until they are far removed from their previous roles. The respective elements receive different individual meanings, together telling a new story. Richard Niessen appraises lettering, ornament, colours, and patterns for his “typographic masonry” like an architect reviewing his building material. Using montage techniques, Niessen distorts the individual components and then rearranges them to create a signature formal language of non-linear structures. For his commissions he develops colourful, energetic images in which playfulness and imagination take precedence over clarity or tradition.

Harmen Liemburg studied social geography and cartography in Utrecht, designing posters for pop concerts during his studies. After taking a job with the communications agency Dietwee in Utrecht, he decided to study graphic design and switched to the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, where he met Richard Niessen. After completing their studies in 1998, the two founded the artist collective “Golden Masters”. They dissolved their studio community in 2002 and have since worked independently as freelance graphic designers.

Photo: Harmen Liemburg (*1966), La Più Grande (detail), 2011, poster, silkscreen, 119 x 84 cm, MKG, © Harmen Liemburg