Anton Stankowski

Anton Stankowski (* 18 June 1906 in Gelsenkirchen; † 11 December 1998 in Esslingen am Neckar) was a German graphic designer, photographer and painter.


Origin and Education

After an apprenticeship and journeyman years as a decorative and church painter, Anton Stankowski studied at the Folkwangschule in Essen under Max Burchartz from 1927. In addition to graphics and typography, photography was already taught here. With Burchartz and the Canis agency, the first visual images and early "functional graphics" were created during his years of study.


Anton Stankowski and his wife Else Stankowski (1908-1980) were buried in the Feuerbach cemetery of the city of Stuttgart.


In 1929 Stankowski moved to Zurich and worked there in Max Dalang's renowned advertising studio. He developed the "constructive graphic" with his new photographic and typographic conception. The Zurich friends Richard Paul Lohse, Heiri Steiner, Hans Neuburg as well as Hans Coray, Hans Fischli, Herbert Matter, Ernst A. Heiniger, Verena Loewensberg, Max Bill and others formed a cultural circle with intensive exchange. During these years, Stankowski completed the famous "Gestaltungslehre", in which he elaborated fundamental forms of expression.

In 1934, Stankowski's residence permit was revoked, he had to leave Switzerland and moved to Lörrach. The loss of his residence permit was accompanied by a ban on working in Switzerland. From Lörrach, he nevertheless continued to work anonymously, also for Swiss clients, until he moved to Stuttgart in 1938 and set up his own business there as a graphic artist. In 1940 he became a soldier and was taken prisoner in the Soviet Union towards the end of the war, from which he returned in 1948. Afterwards he worked as an editor, graphic designer and photographer for the "Stuttgarter Illustrierte".

In 1951, Stankowski founded his own graphic studio on Killesberg. With Willi Baumeister, Max Bense, Walter Cantz, Egon Eiermann, Mia Seeger and others, a new circle of artists and designers emerged in Stuttgart. Stankowski's work in graphic design for IBM, SEL etc., especially the "functional graphics", had an exemplary character. The 1960s saw the creation of the now legendary "Berlin layout", the visual image of the city, and the word marks Signal Iduna and Viessmann.

In 1964, works by Stankowski were shown at documenta III in Kassel in the graphics department. In 1964 he also taught as a guest lecturer in Ulm at the Hochschule für Gestaltung. In the 1960s, Stankowski was a member of the International Center for the Typographic Arts (ICTA) and from 1969 to 1972 he was chairman of the Visual Design Committee of the Munich Olympic Games.

In the 1970s, he created such famous signs as the one for the Deutsche Bank (Bild-Zeitung: "Painter earns 100,000 marks with five strokes"), the Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft, Rewe and the Baden-Baden Olympic Congress. In 1972 Karl Duschek joined the Grafische Atelier Stankowski und Partner (from 1981 Stankowski + Duschek), which he managed from 1975 until his death in 2011 and which closed in January 2012. A large number of other brands and visual images were developed there.

From the mid-1970s, Stankowski increasingly turned to painting. For him, there was no separation between free and applied art throughout his life; it was: "Whether art or design doesn't matter. It only has to be good." Many of his photographic and painterly works flowed into his applied graphic work.

In 1983 he was one of the co-founders of the artists' association Konstruktive Tendenzen, in which he played the role of a nestor. From the late 1920s until his death, his pictorial oeuvre shows a continuity of constructive-concrete art. Likewise, the exhibition activity from 1928 onwards in the fields of graphic art, painting and photography shows the same path.

Prizes and awards

In 1976, the state of Baden-Württemberg awarded Stankowski a professorship. In addition, as a pioneer of graphic design, he received countless prizes and honours, including the Hans-Molfenter Prize of the City of Stuttgart in 1991.

In 1983, Anton Stankowski founded the non-profit Stankowski Foundation, which regularly honours individuals and institutions that bridge the divide between liberal and applied arts and design, just like Stankowski himself. In December 1998, Anton Stankowski received the Harry Graf Kessler Prize, the honorary award of the Deutscher Künstlerbund, for his life's work. As a full member of the DKB, he had participated in a total of seventeen major exhibitions between 1971 and 1993 and had also designed several exhibition posters for them.

Solo exhibitions

  • On the occasion of Anton Stankowski's 100th birthday in 2006, the large-scale retrospective Stankowski 06 - Aspects of the Complete Works presented a comprehensive overview of the artist's free and applied work. Stations in 2006 and 2007 were the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, the Haus Konstruktiv Zurich, the Josef Albers Museum - Bottrop, the Neues Museum Weserburg Bremen, the IDZ Berlin and the Mies van der Rohe Haus Berlin.
  • The exhibition tour Ob Kunst oder Design ist egal - nur gut muss es sein (Whether art or design doesn't matter - it only has to be good) shown in Gelsenkirchen, Wiesbaden and Göppingen in 2010 was dedicated to the circle around Stankowski and showed both "applied" design objects and "free works". A total of 35 artists and designers were shown, all of whom were closely associated with Stankowski.
  • The exhibition Anton Stankowski. Kinderspiele (Children's Games) showed a juxtaposition of a group of 40 large-format black-and-white photographs with 33 original collages at the Städtische Galerie Delmenhorst-Haus Coburg-Delmenhorst in 2011.
  • At the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance, photographs by Anton Stankowski on the theme of "Man and Nature" and "Man and Technology" were exhibited from October 2012 to January 2013.
  • The exhibition, expanded by around 60 index cards from Stankowski's archive, was shown from 22 June to 27 October 2013 under the title Stankowski Foundation. Photographs from the Archive at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart.
  • The exhibition Marken:Zeichen at the Kunstbibliothek Berlin will show around 300 exhibits from the Stankowski + Duschek graphic studio and Stankowski's predecessor studios from 13 March to 16 August 2020.


  • with Eugen Gomringer: Gucken. A children's book. Leonberg 1980.
  • Stankowski, Anton. In: Hans Vollmer (ed.): Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler des XX. Jahrhunderts. Volume 4: Q-U. E. A. Seemann, Leipzig 1958, p. 342.
  • Anton Stankowski - Frei und Angewandt, Free and Applied: 1925-1995. Graphics, paintings, graphic design, design in architecture, photography, documentation. Berlin 1996.
  • Stankowski Photos. Unknown pictures from the 1930s. Ostfildern-Ruit 2003, ISBN 3-7757-1288-7.
  • Exhibition catalogue: Stankowski 06 - Aspects of the Complete Works. Ostfildern-Ruit 2006, ISBN 3-7757-1743-9.
  • Exhibition catalogue: Whether art or design doesn't matter - it only has to be good. The circle around Anton Stankowski. Ludwigsburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-89986-134-1.
  • Exhibition catalogue: Ursula Zeller, Frank Thorsten Moll: Anton Stankowski: Photography. Das Wunderhorn, Heidelberg 2012, ISBN 978-3-88423-420-4.
  • Das Grafische Atelier Stankowski + Duschek, Verlag Kettler, 2020, ISBN 978-3-86206-800-5.


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This page was last changed on 2021-09-22.