The Swiss designer, typographer, author, and artist Karl Gerstner (1930-2017) was one of the most influential protagonists of Swiss graphics in the 1950s and 1960s. He was an apprentice typographer of the Swiss graphic and commercial artist Fritz Bühler (1945-48) alongside with the graphic designer Armin Hofmann. In 1949, he began freelancing, in 1953 he founded his own studio in Basel, and in 1959, he started an advertising agency together with and Markus Kutter that soon became one of the leading Swiss advertising agencies. Numerous publications on design theory and art: Kalte Kunst? (1957), Die Neue Graphik (1959), Integrale Typographie (1959), Programme entwerfen (1963), Do-it-yourself-Kunst (1970), Kompendium für Alphabeten (1972), Typographisches Memorandum (1972), Der Geist der Farbe (1981) and Die Formen der Farbe (1986). In 1964 and 1968 he participated in documenta III and IV (1968) in Kassel and in 1973 his work was presented in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2012 he received the Grand Prix Design of the BAK, the Swiss Federal Office of Culture.
Articles of Karl Gerstner
Letters / Farben statt Formen / Coloration replacing formalisation / Farben verschlüsseln / Karl Gerstner / Vilém Flusser und die Farben
Vilém Flusser and Karl Gerstner got to know each other in February 1987 at the 2nd Latin American Seminar on Alternatives for the teaching of the history of science and technology. Their letter exchange covers a period of about two years (1987-1989). Flusser and Gerstner were united by an intellectual and emotional friendship, read each other’s works, and dedicated a very personal text to one another: “Karl Gerstner” and “Vilém Flusser und die Farben” published in 1992 after Flusser‘s death. Flusser wrote two other texts “Farben verschlüsseln“ and “Farben statt Formen“, together with its English version „Coloration replacing formalisation“ in early 1988, as a discussion proposal for Gerstner. He dedicated “Farben verschlüsseln“ to Gerstner and sent the text with a letter, dated March 4, 1988. While Flusser wrote all his texts with a typewriter, Gerstner’s letters are practically all handwritten and in some cases in colour. To emphasize this difference the letters have been published separately and in different formats: Flusser’s letters are PDF-files and Gerstner’s JPEG and JPG-files.