Monguzzi, Bruno: 9 DÉCEMBRE 1986 [Musée d’Orsay]. Paris: Musée d’Orsay, 1986.

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9 DÉCEMBRE 1986 [Musée d’Orsay]

Bruno Monguzzi [Designer]

Bruno Monguzzi [Designer]: 9 DÉCEMBRE 1986 [Musée d’Orsay]. Paris: Musée d’Orsay, 1986. Original impression [Affiche éditée à l’occasion de l’ouverture du Musée d’Orsay]. 31.5 x 23.8 - inch [80 x 60.5 cm] trim size image printed via offset lithography on a semi-gloss sheet. Lower left corner lightly ruffled. Three short, closed tears repaired with non-archival tape to verso of lower edge. Upper edge slightly ruffled. A good or better example that would benefit greatly from archival backing.

A 31.5 x 23.8 - inch [80 x 60.5 cm] poster designed by Bruno Monguzzi for the Grand Opening of the Musée d’Orsay. Printed in Paris by Bedos Imprimeurs. In 1983 the Musée d’Orsay in Paris opened a competition for the design of the museum’s corporate image and sign system. Swiss designers Bruno Monguzzi and Jean Widmer won the competition, and a redesigned Didot became the museum’s type identity.

“Superficial and stylish graphic designers tend to reduce their syntax to a temporary gospel and spread it everywhere on everything. Good design solutions, however, are probably timeless.” — Bruno Monguzzi

Bruno Monguzzi (Swiss, b. 1941) studied Graphic Design in Geneva, then Typography, Photography and Gestalt Psychology in London.

“I left for London where I selected a few courses: Romek Marber’s at St Martin’s, Dennis Bailey’s at Central, photography at the London School of Printing. Thanks to Ken Briggs, whom I had also met at St Martin’s and who tried to answer my many questions, I discovered Gestalt psychology and became very involved in the study of visual perception. It is at that point, in 1961, that I started to believe in graphic design as a problem-solving profession rather than a problem-making one and that I slowly began to push away my hidden dream to became another Werner Bischof. It was also at the time that I began to understand and to love the American school: Gene Federico, Herb Lubalin, Lou Dorfsman, Lou Danziger, Charles and Ray Eames.”

“In the second issue of Neue Grafik I discovered the Milanese pioneers – Studio Boggeri, Max Huber, Franco Grignani – and I decided to fly to Milan to meet Antonio Boggeri. I still remember the tiny elevator of 3 Piazza Duse. On the slow, shaky journey up to the sixth floor I felt uneasy. And I felt uneasy for the following two years, having fallen in love with the man, his ideas, the designs of Aldo Calabresi and the office with the balcony overlooking the Giardini. After a few weeks of desperate struggle to be good enough to stay there, I was called for. Lifting his lean, long hands – the most beautiful hands I have ever seen – Boggeri shared with me his theory about the spider’s web. Like the spider’s web, he said, Swiss graphic design was perfect, but often of a useless perfection. The web, he stated, was only useful when harmed by the entangled fly. It was then that my vocabulary began to increase. And it was then that my use of type and pictures began to grow towards more expressive solutions.”

Monguzzi started as an assistant at Studio Boggeri in 1961, became Antonio Boggeri’s son-law in 1974, and curated and designed the Studio Boggeri retrospective at the Milan Triennale in 1981.

In 1971, Monguzzi received the Bodoni prize for his contribution to Italian graphic design and he became a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale in 1979. In 1983, in association with Visuel Design Jean Widmer, he won the competition for the signage system and identity for the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

“When the results of the competition to design the poster for the opening of the new Musee d’Orsay proved to be a failure I was called to Paris. Most projects were showing works of art, or details from works of art. Others were showing the building, or details from the building. The director did not want to see the building. The chief curator did not want to see works of art. So, from a “picture followed by words” poster, we arrived at a “words followed by no picture” concept. The logo and date were all that was needed.”

“It seemed to be the perfect brief, but after I had played around with these elements for quite some time I realised that a metaphor was missing. I walked over to my bookcase, picked out a book on Lartigue, slowly turned the pages, and when I came to an image of a plane taking off I knew this was the answer.”

“. . . I think that having designed the logo myself, it was probably easier for me to accept it fully and to use it with the right emphasis. As for the cropping, the possibility of using it in fragments was established from the start. I had already used it with a similar trimming in the C6/5 envelope and on the cards.”

Monguzzi was Art Consultant for Abitare magazine from 1986 to 1991. He was the sole designer for Museo Cantonale d’Arte, Lugano from 1987 to 2004. He lives and works in Meride, Switzerland.

All Monguzzi quotes first published in Eye no. 1 vol. 1, 1990.