Hans Unger

Biography

Advertising and poster designer; illustrator, mosaic artist. Jewish. Born 8 August 1915 in Prenzlau, Brandenburg. 1934-5: studied poster design at the Jupp Wiertz studio, Berlin. 1936: emigrated to South Africa where he was a freelance designer until the outbreak of the war.

Unger saw military service in the South African army in North Africa until his capture in 1942 by the Germans at Tobruk. 1942-4: prisoner of war in Italy but escaped; after travels across France and Spain to Portugal, he arrived in England where he spent a year. 1945-8: freelanced in South Africa. 1948: moved to London after naturalization.

From 1948: founded his own studio, from which he designed memorable posters for London Transport (1950-74), Ideal Home Exhibition, Gas Board, General Post Office, the Observer, and travel firms. He became very interested in mosaic-work which led to his setting up the Unger Mosaic Workshop with Eberhard Schulz in 1958. Later studied the technique in Ravenna, Florence and Venice; subsequently produced stained glass windows (including for St Columbas Church, Chester) and mosaics (including Lewisham Town Hall ; Brasenose College, Oxford; Penguin Books, Harmondsworth; Royal Free Hospital, London). Although a sense of humor pervades Unger’s work, he committed suicide in London in 1975.

Writings by

    ‘Uganda: Some impressions of a recent trip’, Motif 6, Spring 1961, pp. 13-25 book review of The Mosaics of Jeanne Reynal, in Motif 12, 1964, p. 100
  • Practical Mosaics, London: Studio Vista, 1965
  • Gruss aus London’, Graphik, 1967, 2, pp. 20-24.
  • Walter Amstutz (ed.), Who’s Who in Graphic Art, Zurich: Amstutz & Herdeg Graphis Press, 1962. , 1962

Writings about

  • Art & Industry, Oct. 1956, p. 152 (London Transport poster)
  • Art & Industry, Feb. 1957, p. 67 (London Transport poster)
  • Art & Industry, April 1957, p. 141 (LT Tower of London poster)
  • Vollmer, 1958
  • ‘Unger London’, Graphik 7, 1960, pp. 20-25
  • ‘Poster designer: Unger’, Art & Industry, May 1953, pp. 164-7
  • Art & Industry, Nov. 1955, p. 153 (Safari Airlines poster)
  • Carl Heussner, ‘Hans Unger’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Oct. 1956, pp. 38-43
  • John E. Blake, ‘Selling rail travel’, Graphis, July/Aug. 1956, pp. 326-39, 358-9 330 (HU travel posters, p. 330)
  • Eberhard Hölscher, ‘London Transport posters’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., July 1956, pp. 2-11
  • Peter Stone, ‘Hans Unger, artist in mosaic’, Studio, March 1964, pp. 106-7
  • Robert Brazil, book review of HU’s Practical Mosaics, in Motif 13, 1967, p. 99
  • ‘Gruss aus London. Hans Unger’, Graphik, Feb. 1967, pp. 20-24 (posters, mosaics)
  • Michael F. Leavey, London Transport posters, London: Phaidon, 1979
  • note on M.F. Leavey, London Transport posters, in Graphis 201, 1979, pp. 90-91
  • Jonathan Riddell and Peter Denton, By Underground to the Zoo, London Transport posters 1913 to the Present, London: Studio Vista, 1995 (pp. 81, 84, 85).
  • Kunst im Exil in Grossbritannien 1933-1945 (exh. cat.), Berlin: Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst and Verlag Frölich & Kaufmann, 1986. , 1986
  • International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 1933-45, Munich, New York, London, Paris: K.G. Saur, 1983., 1983

Exhibitions

  • Reed House, London, 1977
  • London, 2005.

Collections

  • V & A Archive of Art and Design, Blythe House, 23 Blythe Road, London W14 0QF.