Museum Folkwang
  • HAP Grieshaber. Posters

  • Although not as numerous as his other works, Grieshaber did not treat his posters as subsidiary products. Not only did new constellations of printing blocks, partly using new colours, produce something with a certain autonomy, it was also sometimes the case that he cut printing blocks specifically for making posters. These could be adapted in terms of size, mirror images of motifs or motifs specially produced for making posters (printing blocks). Accordingly, posters play more than a subsidiary role, becoming themselves the expression of an independent artistic examination of a topic.

    Exhibition posters
    The boundaries between independent and applied art are seldom so difficult to define and the transition between an artist’s independent graphic oeuvre and his posters so blurred as is the case with the work of HAP Grieshaber. The posters for his own exhibitions in particular were produced under the same conditions as his graphic oeuvre. Colour woodcuts were his preferred printing technique. The printing blocks produced for printing his graphic oeuvre were also used for producing the posters. Here, new constellations could emerge, as the printing blocks for various different graphic works could be reassembled in a new way for a poster.
    As well as the posters for his own exhibitions, he also produced a large number of posters for other clients. These commissioned posters can be divided up into two groups: one group encompasses the posters that Grieshaber produced as colour woodcuts, and the other those where the motifs use other printing techniques, e.g. offset printing. Of course, with industrial printing processes such as offset printing it is not possible to exert an individual influence on what happens, i.e., to produce anything by hand. Accordingly, such posters cannot be considered to have equal importance.

    Political posters
    HAP Grieshaber’s first political poster dates back to 1950. ›Die Wahrheit siegt‹ (Truth conquers) announces a lecture about the impending Korean War (1950-1953); other posters followed. 1967-8 saw posters such as those condemning the military dictatorship in Greece, where his motifs could also be used by other like-minded groups. In this way, Grieshaber’s motifs were connected with particular political views and became widespread as visual representations of certain ideas. Grieshaber’s political posters identify strongly with the oppressed and a longing for freedom and democracy. The oppression that he himself had suffered under the Nazi dictatorship (1933-1945) meant that this work was based on his own experiences. His last political poster appeared in connection with the 1980 election campaign for the federal government in Germany and stated ›Demokraten wählen‹ (Vote for the democrats).

    Posters for music and the stage
    Grieshaber varied his own visual language to suit the task at hand, which resulted in memorable pieces. He took the idea of a stage setting and lent it a virtual spatial depth, implying a third dimension and distancing himself from the purely two-dimensional designs of his woodcuts.
    He also produced three posters for Württembergisches Staatstheater for the season 1972-3. There were only a few common elements in these works, but enough for them to be perceived as a series. The way that he formulated the dates and placed the texts relating to the client and the play formed the framework. In each case, Grieshaber contented himself with a single central motif which received very restrained treatment: the outline is clear, the inner structure subtly complex, thus taking account of posters’ particular function.
  • Exh_Title_S: HAP Grieshaber. Posters
  • Exh_Id: 656
  • Exh_Comment_S (Verantw): German Poster Museum
  • Exh_SpareNField01_N (Verantw ID): 242
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