Otto Neurath: ISOTYPE and development of modern global signs

Curators: Alan Záruba (Alba studio, Czech Republic)
a Guido van Breda (Total Design of TI, The Netherlands)

18. 6. – 20. 10. 2002
Moravská galerie v Brně, Místodržitelský palác, Moravské nám. 1a



Otto Neurath (1882–1945), Austrian sociologist, political economist and philosopher, is the author
of the main manifest and initiator of logical positivism, the philosophical theory, which made theoretical background and base for a new way of visual explanation of national statitstics in the Social and Economic Museum in Vienna. This led to some very interesting work on graphic design, visual education and the visual display of quantitative information. The whole "Vienna Method" for such displays, also called Isotype (International System of Typographic Picture Education) was developed in main collaboration with Gerd Arntz (1900–1988) – Dutch artist, who wanted in his work to picture developments in society, instead of expressing individual emotions at the time after World War I. Complicated problems had to be represented as simple and clear as possible and Arntz's style lent itself to the objectives of Neurath’s theories perfectly. Under his artistic direction, a catalog of visual statistics was published in 1929 under the title "Die Bunte Welt" and in the years 1936–1937 the main manifests of ISOTYPE. Neurath and Arntz applied the new methodology on a number of charts and national statistics in The Netherlands, after World War II. A new form of visual explanation and simplicity of complicated statistical information made base and created inspiration for the development of pictograms – speaking signs which are very important parts of universal and global communication today.

The exhibition consists of 7 main parts:
1) GeWiMu (methodological approach of the Social and Economic Museum in Vienna
1924–1931)
2) ISOTYPE (theoretical framework of the system and education by the eye)
3) Social objective art (1931–2001) – work of G. Arntz and overview
4) Symbol, rebus and letter – work of Neurath’s collaborator, Czechoslovakian graphic artist and writer
A. Tschinkel in 1937
5) ISOTYPE in practice – statistical publications in the Nethelands 1933–1965
6) Development of modern global signs 1964–2001: AIGA-D.O.T. system (U.S.A.), Otl Aicher (Olympic Games 1972 in Munich), Beno Wissing (Total Design) – Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, DIN, ISO norms for practical visual communication in public spaces, system Apple Macintosh (U.S.A.) and others
7) De Moderne Mensch Ontstaat (2001 update) – important publication of Otto Neurath from 1939.


The exhibition is organised with the support of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Prague