Anthon Beeke, a cross-section of whose work we show on the following pages,
was born in Amsterdam in 1940. A prolific designer and typographer, he has won
many awards for advertising, packaging, poster and magazine design. He is a member
of the agi and is on the unesco jury for children's drawings. In 1981 he founded his
own studio in Amsterdam for product development and graphic design. Editor
a Anthon Beeke, den wir auf den folgenden Seiten mit einem Querschnitt durch
seine Arbeit vorstellen, wurde 1940 in Amsterdam geboren. Als vielseitig tatiger
Graphik-Designer ist er inner- und ausserhalb seines Landes ausgezeichnet worden.
Er ist Mitglied der agi und der UNESCO-Jury für Kinderzeichnungen. 1981 griindete er
sein eigenes Studio für Produkt-Entwicklung und Graphik-Design. Redaktion
Anthon Beeke est né a Amsterdam en 1940. Ce designer et typographe prolifique a
remporté de nombreux prix nationaux et internationaux pour ses annonces, embal
lages, affiches et magazines (on en trouvera ci-après un florilège). Membre de 1'agi, il
siège au jury de 1'unesco pour les dessins d'enfants. En 1981, il a fondé son propre
studio de développement de produits et d'art publicitaire a Amsterdam. La Redaction
Stamp collectors will have been taken aback: in the brochures
introducing the new stamps of the Dutch Post Office, where they
expected to find the establishment's measured thoughts on modern
design and handsome diagrams explaining lithographic printing, as in
earlier issues, they were confronted by short poetic texts and confusing
'art' photographs, perforated like sheets of stamps. Not a trace of
theory, not even the word 'stamp' itself, yet the message was clear
enough: stamps were not being presented as the outcome of the
designer's studious efforts, but as a mirror of the world around as.
A museum magazine on the subject of the Dutch artist's studio. The
Old Masters, the Impressionists and de Stijl in full colour. Then a rather
bare diagram of the studio of a contemporary artist who produces
computer-aided 'visual structures'. A typographic topography, all the
objects in the room indicated on a ground plan and elevations of the
walls (here a tilted record, a book upside-down, another that the
observer owns himself). It makes sense, of course: the processing and
manipulation of data can only be adequately represented by data.
Signs: First floor, Emergency exit, Foreign language department,
Children's books, Fish. Fish? This sign draws attention to a poem hung
on the wall. Where should signs in a library lead if not to literature?
Anthon Beeke was here, working his magic.
Design, people are beginning to say once more, should be invisible.
The designer's job is to put 'concepts' into unobtrusive forms, without
too much noise or fuss. A personal style is only expected when the
concept itself is a bit thin. There is also, of course, another big
movement: New Wave, design as a marking of boundariesthis is
where the domain of youth begins. When the cultural magazine
Hollands Diep appeared for some years in the seventies, it caught the
eye because of its successful synthesis of traditional and new forms:
great freshness and richness of typography for all its functional design,
youthfulness without any kow-towing to the subculture. Does this
[Texte fran$aise: pag«)
mean that Anthon Beeke must be acclaimed as the missing link betwp
the classical and the post-modern?
What we certainly must acclaim in him is untiring typograp't
invention, rare precision and control of layout, typography and com 1
sition, a sensitive but sovereign hand with pictures, the wideness of<is I
scope, which extends from seeming playfulness to the Elizabet n
directness, force and coarseness of the posters for the Globe theati a:
company. But the decisive factor seems to be that all these thingsfcp -
only the prerequisites of a design that does not depend only on jo' n
one's own creativity but has a taste for new themes and contents, th; i-
not content to be a packing for given formulas but wants to choose ci
order, to complete the information and enrich it with overtones, "lis
design is not an end in itself, it creates new ends. We also have to accl r
work that does not overcome the old conflict between functional'!]
and decoration merely by borrowing the forms of fine art (hv
Expressionism plus typography, for instance), but has a value of its c n
as part of the (popular) culture of a city or a country. Beeke's 'lite p
objects' for a library in Rotterdam defy all classification, they are at
three-dimensional posters, they are not typographic art, they are sin 1\
messages to fellow-citizens.
Finally we have to acclaimnot without envya communicate
spirit that does not passively wait for assignments but is eager to infijtn
and recount, convince and even provoke, regardless of all ideoky.
There is the feel of a new departure in all this, welcome enough a
decade marked (at least in North-western Europe) by monotony. If <>er
anybody asks about the future of design at the end of the Golden e,
in the era of over-research and the advance of the graphic computt i
should be sufficient, I think, to show him these pages.
1) Portrait of Anthon Beeke by the Polish artist Waldemar Swierzy.
2) 3) From a long series of posters for performances by the Globe theatrical company, here foi jip
by Sam Shepard and the Dutch dramatist Ger Thijs. See also following page.
Anthon Beeke by Waldemar Swierzy