WEB POSTER EXHIBITION - Claude Kuhn - boxing and butterflies

Claude Kuhn, swiss graphic designer born 1948 in Bern, started out as a humble shop window decorator, but then rose through the graphic design schools and academies of Bern, Stuttgart and Zuerich. He works freelance since 1972, and as art director and exhibition designer for the Museum of Natural History in Bern, Switzerland.

In a special, although narrow field, he has done something to poster design that few of his peers can claim: Completely leaving the beaten paths, he changed one type of poster radically: Claude Kuhn has done to boxing posters what Henryk Tomaszewski and his students did to movie posters, elevating a rather drab kind of visual communication to an interesting and lively art form.

His revolution was appreciated by both the boxing world and the advertising community: The posters are frequently among the "Best Swiss Posters of the Year", but he also received the Swiss Sports Award in 1992 for his boxing posters, a rather unique distinction for a graphic designer.

Looking at a selection of his designs below I am also impressed how the typography chosen in 1983, the date of his first boxing poster, has remained unchanged over the last twenty years, and looks as fresh as ever. Claude Kuhn also handles the specific problem of integrating large amounts of text in an elegant and masterful way.

These posters need no explanation, but if you can not read the fine print in the 1995 and the 1998 poster below, please be advised that both fights took place on Easter Monday, and you will appreciate Claude Kuhn's fine sense of humour.









Making one or two boxing posters a year, as beautiful as they are, is probably not enough to earn a living, so Claude Kuhn also works at the Natural History Museum in Bern where he also has a studio. Even when he does freelance work for other clients, his love for the animal kingdom always shines through: A weightlifting butterfly for a theater poster, a colored mouse for a paint shop, a flying rabbit for the railways or a jumping elephant for the circus, and a leaping frog to suggest how you get ahead when taking evening courses:

1994, Poster for an exhibition on cormorants and fish

1999, Poster for a flea market
The poor flea is infested with ... humans (3. prize in Mexico 2000 )

1993, Poster for an exhibition about a swiss expedition to Brazil

1998, Poster for a reception at the Natural History Museum in Bern

1997, 60th anniversary of the animal park Daehlhoelzli near Bern

1996, Natural History Museum in Bern

1988, Klubschule Migros (an institute for adult education)

1985, Natural History Museum in Bern (the poster also hung upside-down)


Books Claude Kuhn Plakate Stephan Bundi
Texts by Fred Zaugg, Peter J. Betts and Kurt Weidemann; Staempfli Verlag, Bern (CH) (2001); the book can be read from both front and back side, 2 x 95 pages, 17 x 24 cm, 2 x 80 color reproductions, many full page; hardcover; ISBN 3-7272-1020-6; in german; Euro 30 (about US$ 27)
Two graphic designers living in Berne, Switzerland, show their posters in one book: Claude Kuhn is best known for his work for the Museum of Natural History, and for boxing events, while Stephan Bundi concentrates on theater and political posters.

Claude Kuhn Natur-Kunde
Texts by Fred Zaugg; Benteli Verlag, Bern (CH) (1999); 104 pages, 18 x 24 cm, 70 full page color reproductions and many b/w photographs; hardcover; ISBN 3-7165-1202-8; in german
The book was published on the occasion of a poster exhibition with the same title at the Deutsches Plakat Museum in Essen (DE), and contains a detailed biography and a list of posters.

home   previous exhibitions  page created on May 22, 2002 / this section is part of Rene Wanner's Poster Page /