Uwe Loesch

Uwe Loesch was born in 1943, in Dresden. In 1958, he moved to Düsseldorf, together with his family, and started to study graphic design at the Peter-Behrens-Werkkunstschule (arts and crafts school). After finishing his studies in 1968, he worked as a free-lance graphic designer and copywriter for publishing houses, industrial firms, and social and cultural institutions, specifically, museums, cultural festivals, trade fairs, and theaters. In 1974, Loesch started to teach at the Department of Design of the College of Applied Sciences, Düsseldorf and was awarded a professorship in1985. Since 1990, he has been Professor of Communication Design at the Bergische Universität Wuppertal.

»I actually regularly check whether I can leave out the pictorial idea. I think anyway that the picture in our head is stronger than the image we create. Yet there are also fantastic non-verbal posters that only communicate through the picture. Today, it is very easy to test what the whole thing looks like without picture. And usually that is more appealing. On the other hand, many photographic works gain meaning by connecting them to typography, creating an interrelation between text and picture« (Loesch, in: TypeOff 2005). Loesch’s posters aim at the immediacy of communication, he wants to »avoid a doubling of what is inside on the outside« and rather leaves the act of communication with the viewer to what is being shown.

Through the balance of picture and text or through leaving out one of the two elements, Loesch was able to follow this claim already in his early posters and used photography as well as graphical or object-like elements. Designed for the political comedy »Kom(m)ödchen« in Düsseldorf, his poster entitled Vom Völkchen, das nicht hören hat gewollt / Of the Little »Volk« that did not Want to Listen (1968) reduces the half-page photo sujet to hands folded modestly over a naked, hairy stomach, surrounded by hand-writing. Thereby, he associatively introduces the themes of the evening show. With his advertising poster Blaubeeren sind rot wenn sie grün sind / Blueberries Are Red When They’re Green, done in 1978 for a laser-scan producer, Loesch concentrated on the simple and highly effective play with colors in the title’s statement: The word »Blau(beere),« done in yellow, and the word »rot«, are irritating as well as amusing. The concentrated message, visualized in pictorial writing, is invested in the design of the poster and is therefore consistent with the product itself. In the works to follow, the close linking of contents, picture, and text, as well as the color of the letters and the coloring of the picture, remain significant characteristics. One example would be the clipping or segmenting of letters and text through pictorial elements as in the poster The Point (1979), for which Loesch used the type »Transvestitia« that he had developed himself. Yet the design is also shaped by a constructivist, reduced placing of text, such as the mirror-inverted »BACK« added to »PLAY« in the diagonal typeset of the Playback (1982).

With shots that take up the whole picture and »Eckfeldtypographie« (Punctum, 1983) or geometrical/typographic text-picture-constellations (An einer runden Form anzuecken ist eine Kunst für sich / Bumping Against a Round Shape Is an Art in Itself, 1984), new syntheses of design and content emerge in the 1980s. Still, their effect remains as much characterized by immediacy as that of his earlier works. With his so-called Fünfminutenplakaten / Five Minute Posters, done in the late 1980s, Loesch turned towards new forms of design which he first experimented with at an exhibition on »Occupational Health and Safety.« NEWS für EBVscan, done in 1985, is part of this group. The poster which is itself a photograph shows a large number of Polaroid shots: »It shows many pictures of TV shows that I took with my Polaroid camera during a night at the YMCA. I randomly spread out the pictures on the floor. By coincidence, a checker-board pattern emerged. I took over this pattern that we find in more accurate forms already in Roman mosaics and avoided right angles« (Loesch ibid.). Playing with contingency at first assumes dominance in the pictorial concept. The inserted text elements in this poster, for example, the transversely positioned product name that seems to have got there by accident, or the title »News« in the background, covered by the mosaic of Polaroid photos, follow these changed modes of design. This also includes assembled formats with torn or staggered elements. With the lettering, Loesch again experiments with accidental arrangements, with cut out types, thrown on the pictures in the early phase of designing the poster, or in computer-generated syntheses of various textual elements.

Especially since the late 1980s, the typographical design has followed the above-mentioned principles of segmentation, reverse clipping, condensation or staggered arrangement of text, for example in Carl Humann. Der Entdecker von Pergamon / Carl Humann. The Discoverer of Pergamon (1989), done for the Ruhrlandmuseum Essen. Other techniques that Loesch keeps employing are the mirroring of single lines or parts of words, or the fissuring of the sheet (Verfassungslos /Constitutionless, 1993). With posters done for group exhibitions at the Von der Heydt Museum Wuppertal (Tasse oder Untertasse (Cup or Saucer, 1994) and at the Brandenburgische Kunstsammlungen Cottbus (Plakatansichten / Poster Views, 1995), the text that has been turned into a picture becomes a design element of its own. Loesch’s poster for the conference of the Alliance Graphique International in Oaxaca, Mexico (2003), shows that such strategies may also cross the boundaries of readability by privileging a synthesis of picture and text. The poster Hoffnungsschimmer für Indonesien / Glimmer of Hope for Indonesia (2006) relies on optical illusion achieved through regular vertical stripes, an illusion that creates the effect of a technoid typeface united with the picture format, of a pictorial object that serves as a vehicle of communication.

Beyond a comprehensive œuvre of posters and typographical work, Loesch also produced work in the fields of corporate design and communication design for companies, universities, and cultural institutions. He further concentrated on the design of books. His posters have received many awards, and his works have been shown at numerous international exhibitions, for example, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1988), at The Israel Museum, Jerusalem (1994), at the Design Center Jakarta (1995), at the PAN Kunstforum Niederrhein (2003), and at the Kunsthalle Weimar (2004). Quite often, Loesch himself designed the posters for these exhibitions. Since the 1980s, Loesch has consistently participated in the large biannual exhibitions of Graphic Design and Poster Art.

Uwe Loesch works and lives in Düsseldorf.

Selected Literature

Uwe Loesch_Polis. Politische Plakate: Ausst.-Kat. Kunsthalle Harry Graf Kessler, Weimar 2004

Uwe Loesch: …nur Fliegen ist schöner: Ausst.-Kat. PAN kunstforum niederrhein, Emmerich 2003

Nichtsdestoweniger, Plakate von Uwe Loesch: Ausst.-Kat. Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Mainz 1997

Plakatansichten, Fünf internationale Künstler: Werner Jeker, Uwe Loesch, Gerard Paris-Clavel, Volker Pfüller, Henry Tomaszewski: Ausst.-Kat. Brandenburgische Kunstsammlungen, Cottbus 1995

tasse oder unter tasse. örtlich, zeitlich, persönlich. Künstler und Gestalter der Bergischen Universität Wuppertal, Bazon Brock, Michael Badura, Ursula Wevers, Ulrich Reif, Uwe Loesch: Ausst.-Kat. Von der Heydt Museum Wuppertal, Mainz 1994

Der Ort, die Zeit und der Punkt: Plakate von Uwe Lösch: Ausst.-Kat. Museum für Kunsthandwerk, Frankfurt/ M. 1991

Bildrechte: Calder Foundation New York / Foto Stiftung Lehmbruck Museum Bildrechte: VG Bild Kunst, Bonn 2014 Bildrechte: gemeinfrei, Foto: Peter Hinschläger Foto: Tobias Roch, Hagen

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