Karl Gerstner

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Karl Gerstner (2 July 1930 – 1 January 2017) was a Swiss designer, typographer, author and artist.

Gerstner was apprenticed as a typographer, and in 1949, started his own graphic design studio. In 1963, together with Paul Gredinger and Markus Kutter, he founded GGK, a leading Swiss advertising agency.[1]

Gerstner died in Basel University Hospital on 1 January 2017.[2]


designing programs/programming designs by Karl Gerstner was a solo exhibition on view from February 5 to March 30 1973 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York directed by Emilio Ambasz. The exhibition was based on Gerstner's book Designing Programms. [3]


  • Gerstner, Karl (1957). kalte Kunst? (in German) (1st ed.). Teufen, Switzerland: Arthur Niggli. 
  • Gerstner, Karl (1963). kalte Kunst? (in German) (2nd ed.). Teufen, Switzerland: Arthur Niggli. 
  • Gerstner, Karl (1964). Programme Entwerfen [Designing Programmes]. Teufen, Switzerland: Arthur Niggli. 
  • Gerstner, Karl (1968). Designing Programmes (four essays and an introduction, 2nd enlarged ed.). Teufen, Switzerland: Verlag Arthur Niggli AG. p. 112. 
  • Gerstner, Karl (1972). Kompendium für Alphabeten: Systematik der Schrift von Karl Gerstner [Compendium for Literates - A System of Writing by Karl Gerstner]. Teufen, Switzerland: Arthur Niggli. ISBN 3-7212-0236-8. 
  • Gerstner, Karl (1981). Der Geist der Farbe: Karl Gerstner und seine Kunst [The Spirit of Colors: The Art of Karl Gerstner]. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt. ISBN 978-3421060631. 
  • Gerstner, Karl (1986). Die Formen der Farben [The Forms of Color]. Frankfurt: Athenäum. ISBN 978-3761084175. 
  • Gerstner, Karl (1986). Der Künstler und die Mehrheit. Frankfurt: Syndikat Verlag. ISBN 3-434-46073-X. 
  • Gerstner, Karl (1990). Avant Garde Küche - Prinzipien statt Rezepte [Avant Garde Kitchen - principles instead of recipes]. Heiden, Switzerland: Verlag Arthur Niggli AG. ISBN 3-7212-0237-6. 
  • Gerstner, Karl (2001). Review of 5 x 10 Years of Graphic Design etc. Hatje Cantz. p. 256. ISBN 978-3775790598. 
  • Gerstner, Karl (2004). Karl Gerstner: Review Of Seven Chapters Of Constructive Pictures, Etc. Hatje Cantz. p. 256. ISBN 978-3775791519. 
  • Gerstner, Karl (2007). Geisler, Harald; Pabst, Jonas, eds. Designing Programmes (five essays and an introduction, 3rd revised and enlarged by the author ed.). Baden, Switzerland: Lars Müller Publishers. p. 120. ISBN 978-3-03778-093-0. Typography is an art not in spite of its serving a purpose but for that very reason. The designer’s freedom lies not at the margin of a task but at its very centre. Only then is the typographer free to perform as an artist when he understands and ponders his task in all its parts. And every solution he finds on this basis will be an integral one, will achieve a unity between language and type, between content and form. Integral means: shaped into a whole. There the Aristotelian dictum that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts is assumed. And this vitally concerns typography. Typography is the art of making a whole out of predetermined parts. The typographer “sets”. He sets individual letters into words, words into sentences. Letters are the elementary particles of the written language – and thus of typography. They are figurative signs for sounds without content, parts which acquire a meaning and a value only if they are combined. 


  1. ^ "Typographer Karl Gerstner dies". SWI swissinfo.ch. January 3, 2017. Retrieved 2017-01-04. 
  2. ^ "Karl Gerstner ist tot". baz.ch/ (in German). January 3, 2017. Retrieved 2017-01-04. 
  3. ^ Gerstner, Karl. "Think program : synopsis of the exhibition "designing programs/programming designs"". MoMA.org. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Retrieved 2 August 2018. 

External links[edit]

Obituary on form.de