ring ‘neue werbegestalter’ (Ring [or circle] of modern advertising designers)


An association of leading designer/typographers organized by Kurt Schwitters at the end of 1927 to further the aims of ‘New Typography’, the leading exponents of which were Schwitters and Jan Tschichold. ‘Members’ were mostly from Germany but ‘included’ others from France, Holland, Switzerland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The Ring held 23 exhibitions during its brief lifetime, March 1928 to July 1931.

Kurt Schwitters‘der ring neue werbegestalter’, first appeared as the introduction to the catalogue of the Ring exhibition held at the Gewerbemuseum, Basle, March 1930. It is repr. in Friedhelm Lach (ed.), Kurt Schwitters, Das literarische Werk, Cologne: DuMont, 1981, v. 5, pp. 314, 337. Schwitters wrote (Lach, p. 337) that the ring consisted of ‘[Willi] baumeister, [Max] burchartz, [Walter] dexel, [César] domela[ -Nieuwenhuis], [Hans] leistikow, [Robert] michel, [Paul] schuitema, [Kurt] schwitters, [Georg] trump, [Jan] tschichold, [Friedrich] vordemberge-gildewart, [Piet] zwart’, and that ‘guest’ exhibitors for the Basle exhibition included ‘cyliax, kassák, molzahn, teige’. On p. 314, Schwitters, writing in ‘Gestaltende Typographie’, does not include Schuitema but adds Baurat Meyer of Frankfurt a.M. An announcement for the Magdeburg exhibition of July 1929 lists as ‘guest’ exhibitors: Otto Baumberger (Zurich), Herbert Bayer (Berlin-Charlottenburg), A.M. Cassandre (Paris), Walter Cyliax (Zurich), Theo van Doesburg (Paris), John Heartfield (Berlin), Lajos Kassák (Budapest), Moholy-Nagy (Berlin), Johannes Molzahn (Breslau), Oscar Nerlinger (Berlin-Charlottenburg), Karel Teige (Prague). Clearly the ‘membership’ was never rigid.

Schwitters’ Basle introduction is also reprinted in Rattemeyer, 1990, p. 130 (see below).

The first Ring exhibition was held March-April 1928 at the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Cologne. The last Ring exhibition was held at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, June-July 1931; a complete list will be found in Rattemeyer, 1990 (below), p. 141.

Writings about

  • A comprehensive reference: Volker Rattemeyer, Dietrich Helms and others, Ring ‘neue werbegestalter’. Amsterdamer Ausstellung von 1931 (additional on title page: ‘“Typographie kann unter Umständen Kunst sein”’) (exh. cat.), Wiesbaden: Museum Wiesbaden, 1990 (Exh .: Landesmuseum, Wiesbaden, 1990
  • Sprengel Museum, Hannover, 1990/91
  • Museum für Gestaltung, Zurich, 1991). Members of the ring and guest exhibitors in the 1931 Amsterdam exhibition included: Willi Baumeister, Max Bill, Max Burchartz, Walter Dexel, César Domela, Dick Elffers, John Heartfield, Frantjšek Kalivoda, Lajos Kassak, Hans Leistikow, Robert Michel, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Paul Schuitema, Kurt Schwitters, Ladislav Sutnar, Karel Teige, Georg Trump, Jan Tschichold, Friederich Vordemberge-Gildewart, and Piet Zwart.
  • An important reference is Jan Tschichold, ‘New life in print’, Commercial Art, 1930, IX, pp. 2-20, in which JT explains ‘The New Typography’ and in which the work of many of the ring neue Werbegestalter designers is illustrated.
  • Other references: Lissitzky, Schwitters, Tschichold, Werkman, Zwart (sale cat.), New York: Ex Libris, 1985
  • Konrad Matschke, ‘Der Ring “neue Werbegestalter”’, in Kurt Schwitters (exh. cat.), Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, Nov. 1994
  • JA, 2000, pp. 156-62.