Karl Gerstner


Karl Gerstner

Born 1930-07-02 in Basel, Switzerland.
Died 2017-01-01 in Basel, Switzerland.

Karl Gerstner was a typographer, designer, and self-taught artist. Much of his time he lived and worked in Hippolskirch (Alsace-Lorraine, France), but Basel (Switzerland) was his main location. He was also an excellent writer on topics of design and art.

Gerstner was part of the second wave of Swiss typography. He studied under Emil Ruder and Armin Hofmann. Hofmann proceeded Ruder as head of the graphic design department at the Basel School of Design. His education thus took place during a highly noted creative movement in Typography.

In 1959 Gerstner met Markus Kutter to start an agency specializing in graphic design and advertising. In 1962, Paul Gredinger joint the two and their agency became Gerstner, Gredinger, and Kutter(GGK). Before long, the agency became one of the largest internationally acclaimed advertising firms in Switzerland and, later, Germany.

Turning to a more solo career Gerstner continued to design corporate identities for such companies as Swiss Air, Burda, Langenscheidt, and IBM. He was also know as international corporate identity consultant.

Member of institution(s): The Ulm School of Design

1945 – 1948 Completes apprenticeship in graphics at the Atelier Fritz Bühler in Basel and subsequently worked as a graphic designer and fine artist.

1953 Produced his first programmed images called Bunte Reihen.

1957 Published his first book ‘kalte Kunst? Zum Standort der heutigen Malerei‘ (a survey of the school of concrete-constructive abstract painting to which he belongs).

1959 Markus Kutter and Gerstner founded Gerstner + Kutter an agency for advertising, graphics and publicity, which in 1962 became the GGK. He published the book The New Graphic Art in a square format.

1960 With his work Bunte Reihen, Gerstner participated in the first edition of multiples established by Daniel Spoerri, the Edition MAT (Multiplication d’Art Transformable).

1961 Initiated the Plakat Kunst Aktion in Zürich, in which various artists including Max Bill and Richard Paul Lohse also participated. For two weeks, signed prints were posted up in the city.

1961 – 63 Taught at the Ulm School of Design.

1963 Published the essays Programme entwerfen: Vier Aufsätze und eine Einführung in which he spoke in defence of algorithmic art.

1964 Revived the Edition MAT. Participated at the Dokumenta 3 as a designer.

1968 Participated at the Dokumenta 4 as an artist.

1969 Presented a paper on Producing Art with the Computer at the international colloquium Computer and Visual Research in Zagreb (5-6 May 1969, during Tendencies 5).

1970 Withdrew from active management of the GGK to focus on independent artistic work in the future.


Karl Gerstner


Karl Gerstner


Karl Gerstner seen at the occasion of the first showing of a large façade projection wall in Basel, Switzerland. This is December 6th, 2002. The projection is 7 by 7 meters, entitled “Grosse Synchromie”.