“80 20 100” Wim Crouwel Exhibition in Rotterdam

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News | Yves Peters | October 9, 2008

To celebrate the 80th birthday of Wim Crouwel and 20 years Nijhof & Lee Vivid organizes the exhibition 80 20 100. 100 works by Crouwel will be on display. For this Vivid gallery made a selection from the superb Crouwel collection of Frank Nijhof and Warren Lee. A fully illustrated catalogue designed by David Quay (*) will accompany the exhibition.

The exhibition is dedicated to Frank Nijhof who passed away September 3rd. Nijhof and Warren Lee had been planning this exposition and catalogue to celebrate Crouwel’s birthday and to link that to the 20th anniversary of the opening of their bookstore. That plan had been made all the more poignant with the passing of Nijhof; therefore, in his memory, the exposition and the catalogue have been realized.
More on Frank Nijhof on Unzipped.


Wim Crouwel, vormgevers, 1968, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Wim Crouwel

Wim Crouwel is a Dutch designer, artist, professor and museum director. Born in Groningen in 1928, he arguably is one of the most important designers in Dutch graphic history. Crouwel is still active, primarily designing major art exhibitions like the 125 Favourites exhibition by the Rembrandt Association in the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam also opening this month.

Crouwel studied at the Minerva Academy in Groningen from 1947 to 1949, and then in Amsterdam until 1952. In 1952 he established his own design bureau; by the end of the 1950s he started a collaboration with industrial designer Kho Liang Ie. His design for the Benelux Pavilion was awarded the Leopold II Prize in 1958.

In 1963 Crouwel was one of the five founders of Total Design. This multi-disciplinary design bureau was named like this because it was the first in The Netherlands to deal with every single aspect of design in the broadest sense of the word. It became a dominant force in Dutch design, and Crouwel and his colleagues had a significant influence on the national and cultural identity of The Netherlands. Crouwel himself was responsible for many of the posters and catalogues of the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam from 1956 till 1982.


Original cover for New Alphabet – An Introduction For A Programmed Typography

Wim Crouwel has always been fascinated by grid based design systems, and this is prevalent throughout his whole œuvre. He went on to apply grid systems to type design and his famous 1967 design New Alphabet in particular; extending the grid to become a matrix within which the characters were constructed. As a result of the restrictions imposed by the cathode ray tube for which they were specifically designed, they consist of only horizontals and verticals.

In 1997 David Quay and Freda Sack’s The Foundry created Foundry Architype 3, The Wim Crouwel Collection; digitizing the three New Alphabet weights, as well as alphabets for the Fodor Museum (part of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam), and for the Vormgevers exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, and an alphabet originally designed for Olivetti. Upon the request of numerous users the latter was expanded into the four weight typeface family Foundry Gridnik which became an instant hit.

From 1972 on Wim Crouwel started teaching Industrial Design part time at the Delft Technical University, and in 1980 he left Total Design to be full time professor. In 1985 he became the director of the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam and also held the Private Chair Art and Culture Sciences at Erasmus University, Rotterdam (1987–93).

Wim Crouwel’s work is regularly awarded national and international prizes. Every Dutch citizen knows his work but often doesn’t realize it. Throughout the years Wim Crouwel designed a number of postage stamps; the most well known being the stark number stamps which were first issued in 1976.


Wim Crouwel, Visuele Communicatie Nederland, 1969, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

20 years Nijhof & Lee

Nijhof & Lee new and antiquarian book store was founded by Frank Nijhof and Warren Lee in 1988. The shop is situated in the Staalstraat in the historical centre of Amsterdam. Specialized in books on fine art, architecture, photography and design the shop has become the specialist in the fields of graphic design and typography, with a collection of new and antiquarian books unique for the Netherlands. Nijhof & Lee also carries a large collection of posters by Dutch graphic designers of the second half of the twentieth century.

The Exhibition

You are cordially invited to attend the opening of 80 20 100 on Saturday, October 11th, at VIVID Gallery in Rotterdam.
The exposition runs through November 23rd.
The printed catalogue contains 100 designs by Wim Crouwel and an essay by his long time friend and colleague Ben Bos. It has been designed by David Quay and is available at the exhibition, in the Nijhof & Lee shop or through their website. A price list is available separately.

VIVID Gallery
William Boothlaan 17a
NL-3012 VH Rotterdam
The Netherlands
+31 [0] 10 4136321
Opening hours | Tuesday – Sunday, 12 am – 6 pm

Header image: Wim Crouwel, VIVID exhibition Wim Crouwel Fonts, 2002

1 Comment:

  1. Wimheads might also be interested in FontStructions inspired by Crouwel. FontStruct provides the perfect platform for experimenting with Crouwel’s ideas on grid-based letterforms.

    Posted by Stephen Coles on Oct. 9, 2008

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