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Bruno Munari – Faces

Posted by Jon Dowling on

Bruno Munari (1907–1998) is seen as one of the most notable, experimental and eclectic Italian artists/designers of the 20th Century. His principles and beliefs were built upon his early involvement in the Futurist movement, which he joined at the age of 19 using the pseudonym 'Bum'. During the 1930s, Munari began to move towards Constructivism, particularly with his kinetic sculptures titled, ‘Useless Machines’ (1933), which were meant to transform or complicate their surrounding environments. After World War II, Munari also developed radical innovations in graphic design, typography and of course publishing, through the latter creating pieces he would term ‘Unreadable Books’.

Anyone that is a regular browser on Counter-Print will know that we are huge fans of his work. He’s the book designer’s book designer and contributed fundamentally to many fields of the visual arts, as well as publishing. What was always is in common with his work, however, is a wonderful sense of experimentation.

In his book ‘Alla faccia’, Bruno Munari created countless faces through different types of 'signs’. Each is different, yet they are all recognisable, demonstrating how a single concept can be infinitely expressed.

The designer was specifically concerned with finding how many ways and with what techniques the he could produce variations on the human face, as seen from the front.

Munari explained this experiment in ‘Design is Art’, describing how it can be related to graphic design as a wider practice. He explains that such a wide exploration can, ‘help the graphic designer find the image best adapted to a given theme’. According to Munari, ‘each image and technique has precise qualities of its own and transmits a certain message – a graphic symbol for a cosmetic cannot be the same as one for coal’.

This willingness to experiment and push a single theme to the limits of its elasticity is something that I’m sure will resonate with many creative people working today and certainly still represents the working practice of the contemporary logo designer – one who, as Munari says, ‘usually makes hundreds of small drawings and then picks one of them’.

It was with great delight that we heard these experimental faces were being officially reproduced in fine art print form for the first time. As such, we naturally had to add them to the site.

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