German-born graphic designer Pierre Mendell had a pretty turbulent early life, moving from his hometown of Essen, Germany, to the Netherlands, on to Paris, down to Marseille and eventually across to America following the liberation of France by Allied troops in 1945. Despite gaining citizenship he wasn’t long for the US either, joining the army as a German interpreter and heading straight back to his homeland in 1953. After leaving the army in 1958, Mendell enrolled at the School of Design in Basel where he learned his future trade and met a large number of people that he would go on to work with and for throughout his career.
Having established a commercial design studio with Klaus Oberer (one of his School of Design classmates), Mendell went on to define a whole generation of printed promotional material for cultural institutions all across Germany, his striking use of colour and reductive compositions earning him a reputation as one of the world’s foremost graphic designers.
From 1980 onwards Mendell was the in-house designer at Die Neue Sammlung and from the 1990 for the Bayerische Staatsoper. In these roles he was given utmost creative freedom to experiment with his graphic vernacular and create work that was entirely ahead of its time. His work for these two institutions has gone down as some of the greatest examples of poster design in history, and his legacy lives on in the consideration for design that both still utilise in their public appearance.
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