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Paula Scher. Portrait. 2021. Photo: Christopher Garcia Valle
Paula Scher, The Diva is Dismissed, Poster 1994. © Paula Scher

The spectrum of her work is broad. It ranges from her early and award-winning album covers of the 1970s (for records by John Coltrane, Sonny & Cher and Bob Dylan), to her many years of work for the New York Public Theater and corporate identity commissions (for Microsoft Windows 8, for example), to her most recent work on hand-painted maps. Paula Scher, born in 1948, is not by chance one of the most internationally influential and successful graphic artists of her generation. Many of her works have long since become icons of graphic design, with typeface and typography often taking centre stage for the graphic designer.

With „Paula Scher – Type is Image“, the “Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum” in the Neue Pinakothek in Munich is now showing the first solo exhibition of the American graphic designer in Germany from 23 June to 22 September. The show aims to make it possible to experience Scher’s works in a special way in a spatial installation: From the floor to the walls to the hanging letters and posters, visitors will be surrounded by Scher’s works. Even the showcases will be supported by letters. In addition to commissioned works, free creations are also on display, in which the designer, as they say, “reveals herself as an attentive, courageous and humorous observer and commentator of her time”. The free works include, for example, her brochure on “useless information”, in which Scher reacted both critically and ironically to the overabundance of freely available advice in 1994. The overview is supplemented by preliminary drawings and drafts, for example the template for “The Many Styles of Paula Scher”, in which she deals with female types, stereotypes and attributions in 13 variations of her self-portrait.

Scher often uses signs and letters like pictures. The shape, size, alignment and colour of the typographic characters convey their own message even before the typeface is read. Her motifs and compositions are so striking that they are immediately memorable. Paula Scher’s repertoire of typographic forms, according to the announcement, “appears inexhaustible and is often inspired by a lifelong passion for collecting, especially for historical and marginal typefaces”.

Paula Scher became a partner in Pentagram’s New York office in 1991. She has received more than 100 awards for her work, including the AIGA Medal, the US National Design Award and the Type Directors Club Medal. Most recently, she was honoured with the title “Personality of the Year” by the German Design Council in 2023. To accompany the exhibition, a large-format poster book will be published by the Walther und Franz König bookshop, for which Scher has selected 101 posters and motifs from her entire oeuvre.

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