50 Years of the Olympics – When Posters Tell History
A Munich private collection
The year 2022 marks two special anniversaries in connection with the poster collection on offer here. Fifty years ago – in 1972 – the Games of the XX Olympic Games (1972) took place in Munich, and the authoritative graphic designer of the sporting event, Otl Aicher, would have turned 100 this year.
Otto, called Otl, Aicher was born in Ulm in May 1922. Due to his affiliation with the Bündische Jugend, Aicher was imprisoned in 1937, and in 1941, due to his refusal to join the Hitler Youth, his high school diploma was revoked. After the end of World War II, he finally began training as a sculptor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Only two years later followed the opening of his first graphic design office in Ulm, at the same time planning began for the Hochschule für Gestaltung, which he founded in 1953 together with his wife, the sister of Hans and Sophie Scholl, Inge Aicher-Scholl and the former Bauhaus student Max Bill. In addition to teaching at the HfG, Aicher specialized primarily in the practical field of graphic design. In 1962, for example, he revised Lufthansa’s corporate design: Aicher retained the crane designed by Otto Firle, but reduced it to its basic forms and added the now unmistakable Lufthansa lettering in Helvetica, as well as the typical yellow-blue color scheme.
Aicher became internationally famous with his comprehensive design concept for the corporate identity of the Summer Olympics in Munich. In addition to posters, infographic maps and the Olympic dachshund Waldi, he also designed the unmistakable pictogram system that encompasses the various sports of the Olympics and is still valid today.
The convolutions and individual objects in the twenty lots on offer here all came from the Olympic Committee’s holdings at the time and passed into a private collection in Munich. Aicher and his design team created a poster motif for each of the 21 sports disciplines of the Summer Games. The graphic designers developed the posters from sports photography, and the designs culminated in an original, cross-cultural visual language that is particularly vibrant, not least because of the iconic, serene color palette of green, blue and yellow hues. The color serigraphs in A0 and A1 formats are test prints in other color combinations and with partially different motifs than those ultimately realized; thus, these posters constitute a rarity within the collection. Information graphics, schedules and the posters and publication about the visual appearance of the sports event complete the exciting offer.
Important museum institutions took up the theme of the 2022 Olympic Games in Munich in special shows. The Neue Sammlung in Munich presented the exhibition ‘Design für Olympia’, the Bröhan Museum in Berlin focused on ‘Otl Aicher. Olympia 72’ the focus of the show was on the graphic artist himself. And we are also very pleased to celebrate the anniversary of Otl Aicher with you at the end of 2022 with this special collection of posters.