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Sandberg – Charisma and Design

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

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The book Sandberg by Ad Petersen is a gate to the world of the graphic designer and director of Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam, Willem Sandberg. There is no other book that reveals so many things from his personal life and work. With his short introduction is getting our attention and keep us close to the book with our EYES OPEN.

Starting with Sandberg`s beginnings when he was experimenting with typography and the way he turned out his own handwriting with all the experience he had into a original trend which later is becoming so important, Petersen is diving deeper in Sandberg’s work. With a lot of verve he is writing about the way Sandberg was dealing with the space. So simple almost childlike but at same time so strong and with so much movement. Using only black and red ink, the strange choice for turquoise as a favorite, the specific brown paper and short writing with a rhythm of breathing, speaking and thinking in natural way, his design is standing out.

After a lot of pictures from catalogs and posters the author is introducing us another part from Sandberg`s life. His provocative role during the time of the World War Two and after, when he is becoming a director of Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.How after the war in such a bad conditions he manages to turn it into a new melting point for all new artists and people interested in art. The book discover how he with his forward looking  made Stedelijk what it is now. One of the most influential museums for 20`s century art. The only director who was doing the designs for the catalogs and posters for almost all the expositions that took place in the museum at that time. He changed the whole look of the Stedelijk with making the library totally accessible, opening a terrace, a restaurant, bringing new, airily and simple interior and modernizing the old museum building. As a person with a lot of artists and designer friends he made a very big art collections with a lot of paintings and designs. We can easily see that he was connected to the De Stijl especially to Mondrian. He had organized so much exhibitions for him in the Stedelijk and designed so many publications, but still Sandberg was thinking that  Mondrian was not understand in the way he should be, not as a wallpaper designer, nor furniture or architecture, but as someone who wants to set the painting free from the picture.

To let us understand why Sandberg was breaking the rules so often Petersen is writing about the role that Sandberg had in the War World Two when the left-handed, sickly boy who was stuttering is using the knowledge he had about typography to safe life’s and changes human destiny. That is the free expression in life that Sandberg learned home from his grandmother and mother. Using this while creating his work and the way that he lived we can see how the thoughts and the visions from the student of Academy for Fine arts, psychology and philosophy, the intellectual and person with strong social impact are coming out.


this post is part of he subjective library project "Unopened Book"
the book can be found at the Rietveld library : catalog no : -san-6

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