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Shin Matsunaga is one of Japan’s most internationally-renowned graphic designers. His work combines traditional Japanese graphic art, illustration and painting with elements of Western design to create his own unique world of forms. This exhibition at Museum Folkwang provides a glimpse into his creative output over the past 50 years.
Japanese graphic designer Shin Matsunaga’s posters are characterised by their clear typography, strong use of colour and his rich palette of pictorial influences, stretching from illustration to photography. This exhibition primarily features posters Matsunaga designed for cultural events as well as political posters he created for campaigns relating to environmental issues, alongside a selection of his “paper freaks” – drawings on paper he sees as a rebellion against his highly-regimented occupation as a graphic designer.
Born in Tokyo in 1940, Shin Matsunaga’s career began at Shisedo, a cosmetics company, where his posters for the Bronze Summer Suntan Oil campaign were awarded the Art Directors Club Tokyo Prize for three years running (1969–1971). Through his advertising agency, which he founded in 1971, he worked with brands such as Mazda and Issey Miyake, designed a book version of the Japanese constitution, and created the corporate design for the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo. He also designed the packaging for Scottie paper towels and the French cigarette brand Gitanes. His work has been awarded numerous prizes, including the gold medal and the special prize of the International Poster Biennale in Warsaw, the Moscow Golden Bee Award and the OCOGRADA Grand Prize.
Matsunaga’s works can be found in the permanent collections of 90 museums, not only in Japan but all around the world, including the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the V&A Museum in London, the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg, the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.
The German Poster Museum has previously dedicated numerous exhibitions to figures who have inspired and influenced German poster design, with Japanese designers – such as Ikko Tanaka (1930–2002) and Takenobu Igarashi (born 1944) – a frequent and prominent component. Thanks to a generous donation by the artist, some of Matsunaga’s works are now also held in the collection of the German Poster Museum at Museum Folkwang.