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Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design: Ludwig Hohlwein

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John Clifford profiles influential German designer Ludwig Hohlwein, who incorporated depth and pattern in his poster designs.

Ludwig Hohlwein

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1874–1949 | BORN: Wiesbaden, Germany | EDUCATION: Technical University in Munich; Dresden Academy

Incorporated depth and pattern in poster designs

Evolved stylistically throughout his career, from flat to painterly to severe

Another influential German designer, Ludwig Hohlwein, drew inspiration from the Beggarstaffs and their flat, simple, graphic style. Trained as an architect, Hohlwein left Munich in 1911 for Berlin, where he worked as a poster artist. While he worked in the Plakatstil (poster style) that Bernhard had pioneered, the two differed in some important aesthetic ways. Rather than total flatness, Hohlwein incorporated depth in his poster designs; pattern, texture, and color gave his work more volume, which was well suited for his clothing and retail clients.

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Hermann Scherrer poster, 1911

Hohlwein’s designs evolved as the world around him changed. His work became richer and more painterly. His posters during World War I used light and shadow to give them more of a human touch. For instance, in his poster promoting an exhibit of artwork by German prisoners of war, the balance of the graphic cross with the soldier’s expressive face appeals to the viewer’s emotions.

As Adolf Hitler rose to power, Hohlwein designed many posters for the Nazi party. His work grew more sharp and severe, and featured figures that exhibited muscular, Aryan ideals. Although Hohlwein was a very talented designer, his legacy has been tainted by his close ties to the Nazi party.

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Poster for Munich Racing Association, 1909

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Red Cross Collection Drive fund-raising poster, 1914

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Berliner Sport Club poster, 1914

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