Marie Neurath

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Marie Neurath, born Marie Reidemeister (27 May 1898 – 10 October 1986), was a member of the team that developed the Vienna Method of Pictorial Statistics (Wiener Methode der Bildstatistik), which she later renamed Isotype. She was also a prolific author and designer of educational books for younger readers. Her brother was mathematician Kurt Reidemeister. She was born in Braunschweig.


After university studies in Göttingen and Munich Reidemeister began work in 1925 at the Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum in Wien (Social and economic museum of Vienna). This was the start of her long activity as the main "transformer" (in English, one would now say designer) working with Otto Neurath in the teams that made graphic displays of social information. The other essential member of the Neurath group, the German artist Gerd Arntz, joined in 1928. Marie Reidemeister worked at this museum in Vienna until the brief civil war in Austria in 1934, moving then with Neurath (a prominent Social Democrat) and Arntz (who had allegiances to radical-left groups) to The Hague. A new name was needed for the Vienna Method now that its original context was left behind: Marie Neurath developed the acronym Isotype (International System of TYpographic Picture Education) in 1935 on the analogy of Charles Kay Ogden’s “Basic English”. In 1940, as the German army invaded the Netherlands, Reidemeister escaped with Neurath to England, while Arntz stayed behind in The Hague. In 1941, after release from internment (as "enemy aliens"), Marie and Otto Neurath were married, and resumed their work in Oxford, founding the Isotype Institute. After Otto Neurath’s death in 1945, Marie Neurath carried on the work with a small number of English assistants, moving to London in 1948. After her retirement in 1971, she gave the working material of the Isotype Institute to the University of Reading, where it is housed in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication as the Otto and Marie Neurath Isotype Collection. Thereafter she devoted much energy to establishing a record of Otto Neurath’s life and work, and editing and translating his writings. She died in London in 1986.

Further reading[edit]

  • Marie Neurath & Robin Kinross, The transformer: principles of making Isotype charts. London: Hyphen Press, 2009.
  • Otto Neurath (ed. Marie Neurath and Robert S. Cohen), Empiricism and Sociology, Dordrecht: Reidel, 1973.

External links[edit]