Roberta Smith
Willi Kunz: Architectural Typography

Since 1984, the Swiss-born graphic designer Willi Kunz has designed a series of posters for the Graduate School of Architectural Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. While other examples of Mr. Kunz’s work are included in this exhibition – among them typographic interpretations of excerpts from the writings of Marshall McLuhan and four posters for photography exhibitions – it is these posters that dominate.

Mr. Kunz’s style has clear origins in Bauhaus and Constructivist graphic design, and his penchant for structuring his posters somewhat like architectural elevations is both fitting and striking. It enables one to move through a semester’s guest speakers and exhibitions as through the stories of a building. The spareness of his layouts means that the white ground of the paper also becomes white space, opening up behind and beyond the type. As with most good poster design, the acts of reading and seeing are inextricably combined.