Walter Allner’s (1909–2006) creativity, artistic skill, and imagination have led to amazing graphics, logos, and magazine covers. (Walter Allner | Cary Graphic Arts Collection | RIT, n.d.) Walter Allner, a noted designer, typographer, and painter, was trained at the Bauhaus under Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky, and Joost Schmidt.
I try to be brief in all of my work, whether it’s a poster, a magazine cover, or something else. In his own words, “The contribution of the individual—the artist, the designer—in graphic originality, excellence, inventiveness, and even audacity alone… stimulates interest and creates a link between the advertiser and the public.” He believes that the key to successful design is to capture the viewer’s attention quickly and effectively while conveying a clear message. He achieves this by utilising bold colours, strong typography, and striking imagery in his designs.
Allner trained at the Bauhaus
Allner did what he learned at the Bauhaus in Dessau: clear and to the point. He explains each assignment in a way that is clear and easy to understand, and he often does this with solid graphic symbols. A text message is always short and to the point. His shapes are primarily abstract, with clear lines and geometric shapes made more interesting by solid areas of pure colour. In each case, the design is straightforward to recognise as a symbol for the product.
Allner was already a well-known painter, designer, and poster expert when he moved to the United States in 1949. He helped the poster artist Jean Carlu and worked with A. M. Cassandre while he was in Paris. He had started his own design company, Omnium Graphique, and was the art director for Formes, Editions d’Art Graphiques, et Photographique.
Allner in the United States
People say that Allner and others carried on the work of the Bauhaus in the United States. In particular, the covers he made for Fortune show the strong spirit of functional design used there. These covers show how many different things can be done with this art. Allner thought that every cover should have “something surprising” about it. For one thing, he told the computer what programme to use to make the cover. He made a fold-out for the 35th-anniversary issue by assembling a bunch of broken cans. Shortly after this was published, Allner was praised for his work and invited to join the United States Information Agency’s display at the Berlin Industries Fair.
Allner was asked to make the first poster for the new Bauhaus Museum in West Berlin at the beginning of the 1980s. At the same time, his editorial graphics and poster designs were shown in a big way at the Kunstbibliothek of the Staatliche Museum in Berlin. His poster for this show is a big “A” that isn’t in the middle. It is made out of white paper’s empty space and comprises three colours: brown, green, and blue. The words are written in grey ink across the bar of the letter “A.” The poster, made directly, creatively, and briefly, is a perfect example of his philosophy and a symbol of the product, Allner. (Pendergast, 1997)
From 1962 to 1974, he was the art director for Fortune magazine, which is what most people know him for. He designed 79 covers for Fortune magazine himself and was known for being creative with how he used computers in his work. He is known for making the first computer-made cover for a national magazine, the Fortune 500 issue, every year. (Walter Allner | Cary Graphic Arts Collection | RIT, n.d.)
Walter Allner | Cary Graphic Arts Collection | RIT. (n.d.). Walter Allner | Cary Graphic Arts Collection | RIT. Retrieved March 12, 2023, from https://www.rit.edu/carycollection/node/313675
Pendergast, S. (1997, August 31). Contemporary Designers. https://amzn.to/3ZHv3TO
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