Publication “Gebrauchsgrafik in der DDR”

In memory of Gert Wunderlich

The publication “Gebrauchsgrafik in der DDR” was published in 1975 by Verlag der Kunst, Dresden. It was the largest overview of applied graphic design in the GDR to date. It featured designs for posters and books, for packaging and large-scale public events. No comparably extensive publication subsequently appeared. Today, the publication is still a valuable source on graphic design in the GDR. It was last presented in the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge as part of the exhibition “Masse und Klasse. Gebrauchsgrafik in der DDR”. The protective cover was designed by Gert Wunderlich.

The Thing of the Month has a sad occasion: Gert Wunderlich passed away in Leipzig on August 15, 2023.

The designer, who was born in Leipzig in 1933, received numerous awards for his elaborate book designs and poster designs, including “Most Beautiful Books of the GDR” and “Best Posters,” as well as the “Gutenberg Prize of the City of Leipzig” in 1979.

In addition, the learned typesetter and central figure of the Leipzig Typographers’ School developed numerous distinctive font types. One of them was one of the most widely used fonts in the GDR: Maxima. This font was oriented towards legibility and beauty of form and was not only used in countless publications, but was also omnipresent in Berlin’s urban space in the form of signage for public transport. In 2006, the Maxima underwent a re-design by the Hamburg-based company Elsner + Flake, with the support of Gert Wunderlich. Under the name “Maxima Now”, it is today available in 25 Latin styles, making it one of the few fonts from the GDR that is still in use to this day in a total of 80 language areas.

For more than three decades, Gert Wunderlich worked at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig, where he was head of the book design/applied graphic design department from 1979. He was also a guest lecturer at the Academy of Art & Design in Beijing, China.

Gert Wunderlich can be regarded as one of the most influential graphic designers in the German-speaking world, who left a lasting mark on the graphical production of subsequent generations.