40 x 40 cm
Oil on canvas
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Sammlung Rolf und Friedel Gutmann
Anton Stankowski (born 1906 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, died 1998 in Esslingen am Neckar, Germany) was an internationally renowned graphic designer as well as a recognized Constructivist-Concrete artist. His work is comprised of all types of graphic design – from advertisements, to company logos that are still known today. It also includes numerous paintings, reliefs, objects, and public artworks. Two aspects run through all of Stankowski’s multifaceted artistic and design oeuvre: the search for an objective pictorial language and a focus on what it essential. Stankowski’s motto was “fine arts and applied arts are one.”
Stankowski grew up in the Ruhr region of Germany, where he initially trained to become a decorative and church painter. From 1926 to 1928, he attended the Folkwangschule für Gestaltung in Essen, which was decidedly progressive for its time. While there, he studied typography and poster design. He also learned many things, such as photography, from the advertising graphic designer Max Burchartz, who had been influenced by Theo van Doesburg and devoted himself to the precise aesthetics of modernism. Burchartz had a major influence on Stankowski’s career and let him work in his “werbebau” advertising agency. He also later recommended Stankowski to another successful graphic designer, Max Dalang in Zurich, in 1929. Thanks to Stankowski’s precise montages of photography and typography, he became a key figure of Swiss Constructivist advertising design. He also frequented artists’ circles, most prominently the Zurich Concretists, whose members included Max Bill, who also ran an advertising agency; Richard Paul Lohse, who was Stankowski’s subtenant for a while; and Verena Loewensberg, who in 1981 recalled that Stankowski was “simply the most progressive graphic designer in Zurich” in the early 1930s, adding: “He brought diagonals to posters. He made photomontages. That was very new. And his influence was significant.” The lasting influence of the dynamic diagonals on Stankowski’s Constructivist compositions can be seen in his work “Dreiklang” from 1984, which is in the collection of Museum Haus Konstruktiv.
When Stankowski’s residence permit was revoked in 1933, he moved to Lörrach, Germany, where he continued to work for Swiss companies. In 1938, he founded the “Grafische Atelier” in Stuttgart, but was drafted to military service in 1940. He was held prisoner in Russia for many years and did not return until 1948. He then worked as a photojournalist for the “Stuttgarter Illustrierte” magazine and opened a new studio. In 1974, Stankowski designed one of his most famous logos, this time for the Deutsche Bank. The logo shows a diagonal line within a square, resembling a simplified percent sign.
For a long time, Stankowski continued to create art while mainly working in design, but as he became older, this was reversed. Stankowski gained broader public recognition as an artist after the exhibition “Der Konstruktivismus und seine Nachfolge” at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in 1974.