Something really cool happened at work last week. Naturally, it had nothing to do with work! A designer I work with brought in a pair of Communication Arts magazines from 1970 and 1971. Being inspired by the art of that period, I was transfixed by what I found between the covers of those volumes.
What particularly caught my attention were Dietmar Winkler’s posters for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, dating to 1968 and 1969. His designs were so good, they had me thinking to myself, “I wish I had painted that!” The second orange poster below (the horizontal composition) especially blew my mind.
Curiously, Dietmar Winkler’s poster designs are not prevalent online. A page by UCLA design professor Jennifer Steinkamp features a fantastic poster for a COBOL computer-programming course at MIT. (This image is in black and white below, but it’s much better in color, naturally.) Somuchpile.com uploaded this poster, of that MIT era, from a Bach recital. And iso50.com blogger Scott Hansen ebulliently praised designs by Winkler featured in Graphis 71-72; “It is perhaps the most perfect thing I have ever seen,” Hansen wrote, rightly.
Here’s the rest of the set from Communication Arts:
Today, Winkler is professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. According to his biography, Winkler has been encouraging a more scientific approach to design practice — one that involves research and testing.
“Unless graphic designers want to continue to be identified as dilettantes designing ephemera,” the biography argues, “they must now test, substantiate their assumptions, and verify the fidelity of their solutions.”
Philosophy aside, I am thoroughly inspired by the commitment to geometry Winkler made manifest in his late-1960s MIT posters. They are outstanding, and still ring true today.