Gunther Rambow is one of the most innovative and forceful designers of the late 20th Century. Rambow pushed German poster design to new levels both ethically and aesthetically, using the poster as a platform from which to take on social and political issues. Making extensive use of symbolism and metaphor to transform photographs into multilayered, stunning works that confront the viewer’s deepest humanity, Rambow’s work is forceful – almost violent – and impossible to ignore.
Using documentary-stye photographs, sans-serif typefaces, and a sparse color palette, Rambow communicates complex ideas in seemingly infinite space, often leaving miles of negative space around his central figures to increase visual impact. One testament to the quality of Rambow’s work is that it is universally accessible despite the fact that it often includes text. I have returned to his posters again and again, in spite of the fact that I don’t speak a word of German. Certainly it would add an additional layer of meaning to me if I could understand the text, but I find Rambow’s compositions so complete and compelling that I rarely notice the language gap.
“I believe that everything I have done in my life has been a response to my environment: to socio-political concerns but also to simple matters with which I have placed myself in a dialogue or a context. Individual communication can only take place when it has a socially meaningful basis. Otherwise it is just decoration and tinsel.”
Rambow has been leading the field of graphic design in Germany since the early Sixties, when he opened a design studio while still a student at the Hochshule für bildende Kunste [Academy of Art and Design] in Kassel. Although Rambow’s work has often been for commercial clients such as Gitanes (cigarette company), his work has always maintained a signature style. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 1992 Design Award of the International Center of Photography. In addition to running a design studio and publishing house, Rambow has taught visual communication at the Gesamthochschule Kassel since 1974 and at the Academy for Design in Karlsruhe since 1992.