Otto Treumann

Biography

Posters, publicity, book jackets. German-Dutch. Jewish. Born 28 March 1919 in Fürth, Bavaria; mother a photographer. 1935: brought to Amsterdam by his brother and sister-in-law (they had left Germany a year earlier because of the political situation). 1935-6: his relatives sent Otto to the Amsterdam School of Printing for a one-year course. 1936-40: studied at the Nieuwe Kunst (NK: New Art) School, Amsterdam, under Hajo Rose who had studied at the Bauhaus (and had a great influence on Treumann), and Jan Havermanns.

End of 1939: as a result of Kristallnacht, the Treumanns were joined in Amsterdam by their parents and grandmother. Otto worked part-time at Co-op2, an advertising agency run by Rose and Paul Guermonprez, a photography teacher at the NK. Summer 1942: Treumann was able to get through two interrogations by the Nazis but went into hiding in September, before the third. 1943-5: resistance work in Amsterdam: forging identity cards, ration cards, passport stamps. Treumann later wrote about Willem Sandberg (first postwar director of the Stedelijk Museum): ‘Even before I was known to him, he had put his life on the line for me. That was with the raid on the Amsterdam register office, during the war, to stop the Germans tracking down the Jews. After 1945 it was he who gave me my first commissions.’ (Treumann monograph, 2001) Treumann’s parents and grandmother were transported to Sobibor concentration camp in 1943; they did not survive.

From 1945: freelance, designed posters for fairs, concerts, museums, and book jackets. 1946: became Dutch citizen. From 1947: designed the journal Rayon Revue. 1953-67: chairman of graphic design section of the GKf (Society of Practitioners of the Applied Arts). From 1955: member of AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale). From 1957 he began to visit Israel, beginning a long association with the Bezalel Academy of Arts in Jerusalem; he taught there 1964-8 and was visiting professor in 1970. 1962: asked by George Him to design El Al corporate identity; the logo became world-famous. 1962: offered position as head of graphic design department at Rhode Island School of Design (which he turned down). 1965: designing Documents of the Persecution of the Dutch Jewry 1940-45, Treumann was able to learn which train had taken his parents to Sobibor.

Otto Treumann played a major role in postwar Dutch graphic design. He received numerous awards including David Röell (1970), Royal Dutch Knighthood (1970), City of Amsterdam Hendrik-Nikolaas-Werkman (1975) and Œuvre Award of the Netherlands Foundation (1994). Died 6 June 2001 at Weesp (near Amsterdam).

Writings about

  • A comprehensive reference for Treumann is Lauwen, 2001, below, which contains full list of OT’s exhibitions and bibliography.
  • Hans Jaffé, ‘Dutch commercial art’, Graphis 30, 1950, pp. 104-27
  • Modern Publicity 1953-4, 1953, p. 54
  • Vollmer, 1958
  • brief biography, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., May 1954, p. 55
  • H. Kuh, ‘On the Dutch poster’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., July 1960, pp. 2-9
  • Walter Plata, ‘Das Abenteuer der steendrukkerij de Jong & Co’, Form und Technik, Dec. 1960, pp. 559-74
  • ‘Erste Typographische Weltausstellung Typomundus 20’, Graphik, 1965, 5, pp. 6-7
  • ‘Typomundus 20’, TM, March 1965, p. 227 (EL AL logo)
  • ‘Bibeb’ (E.M. Lampe-Soutberg), Otto Treumann, grafisch ontwerper (James Brockway, ed.), Nijmegen: Koninklijke Drukkereij G.J. Thieme, 1970
  • ‘Otto Treumann, Amsterdam’, Graphik, 1971, 4, pp. 25-7
  • Otto Treumann, graphic designer (exh. cat.), Jerusalem: Israel Museum, 1975
  • Kees Broos, ‘Dutch design for the public sector’, Graphis 206, 1980, pp. 478-95
  • Alston Purvis, Dutch Graphic Design 1918-1945, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1992
  • K. Broos and Paul Hefting, Dutch Graphic Design, London: Phaidon, 1993
  • Toon Lauwen, Otto Treumann (monograph, in series ‘Graphic Design in the Netherlands’), Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2001 (John Kirkpatrick, tr.)
  • International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 1933-45, Munich, New York, London, Paris: K.G. Saur, 1983., 1983
  • Ernst Fischer and others, Buchgestaltung im Exil 1933-1950. Eine Ausstellung des Deutschen Exilarchivs 1933-1945 Der Deutschen Bibliothek. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2003. Very comprehensive. , 2003, biog.: p. 202.
  • Hans Kuh, ‘Otto Treumann, Amsterdam’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Dec. 1950, pp. 10-17 (posters, book jackets)
  • H. Kuh, ‘Otto Treumann, Amsterdam’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Jan. 1955, pp. 8-13
  • H. Kuh, ‘A Dutch museum advertises’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Sept. 1956, pp. 46-53
  • H. Kuh, ‘The advertising of the lithographic print-shop de Jong & Co.’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Dec. 1960, pp. 40-45

Exhibitions

  • London School of Printing, 1959
  • Stedelijk Museum, 1970
  • Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1975
  • Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, 1983
  • Jewish Museum Franken, Fürth, 2000.

Collections

  • Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.