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Home : Vintage Poster Artists : Peter Birkhauser

Peter Birkhauser

fete federale de chant

pkz

Peter Birkhauser (1911 - 1976) was one of the leaders of the Object Poster Style which dominated Swiss advertising through much of the Thirties, Forties and Fifties. Along with three other leading artists from Basel, (Herbert Leupin, Niklaus Stoecklin, and Donald Brun), Birkhauser combined wit with beautifully drawn, hyper-realistic product illustrations to create eye-catching and unforgettable advertising. These artists took full advantage of the technique of stone lithography, in which brilliant color and richness of texture could make printed objects look real. The Swiss had a passion for this style, perhaps because it appealed to their love of precision and clarity, but also because it could be understood by everyone in a country with four national languages.

After studying in Italy and Germany, Birkhauser apprenticed with Niklaus Stoecklin, the "father" of the Basel School, from 1931 to 1934. In his final year with Stoecklin, Birkhauser created his first design - an Object Poster of a button, done for a competition for PKZ, the Zurich clothing store. Not only did the poster edge out Stoecklin's design to win the competition, but it has become one of the most prized Swiss posters of all time.

For the next 25 years, Birkhauser produced around 60 masterpieces in the super-realist style, each one requiring about 10 weeks of painstaking work to produce. He was unparalleled in his ability to harmoniously weave word and image together, with rich and surprising color harmonies. His work is represented in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and design museums around the world. His posters and those of his contemporaries are often viewed as a final moment of glory for the lithographic poster, which after 50 years was replaced by the less expensive and faster method of offset printing.

Vintage Posters by Peter Birkhauser