WJHB Sandberg

W.J.H.B. Sandberg (1897-1984) was a Dutch graphic designer who, at the age of forty, was named curator of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. World War II soon interrupted his career. He thus engaged actively in the artists’ resistance to the German occupation of the Netherlands, which forced him to live in secrecy for two years. In 1945, after the liberation, Sandberg was named director of the Stedelijk and remained there until 1963. In over fifteen years, and with few means available to him, he transformed the Stedelijk Museum into an international centre of contemporary art, which played an exemplary role in the museographic world across Europe and even beyond. This was not only due to Sandberg’s conception of it, that is, the notion of an open, welcoming museum, offering a varied and constantly updated exhibition programme, but also and especially, it was because Sandberg, as a graphic designer, personally took care of almost all of the catalogues, posters and other communication tools. His typographic style is refined and sober, characterised by a systematic asymmetry, a predilection for lowercase lettering, the generous use of bright, plain colours, mainly red and blue, various uses of Kraft paper combined with art paper and the use of letters torn from paper. The result is an extremely personal typography that is easily recognisable, the generous work of a graphic designer/director who was his own commissioner, and thus blessed with rare freedom.



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