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Plakat Jimi Hendrix: Günther Kieser, PLAKAT Jimi Hendrix Experience Tournee, Lippmann & Rau Concerts, 1969 © Günther Kieser
Günther Kieser, Poster for the exhibition at the Bröhan Museum, 2017 © Günther Kieser
Günther Kieser © filmkunstgrafik

Whether American Folk Blues, the Frankfurt Jazz Festival, the Berlin Jazz Festival or the Berlin Jazztage – Günter Kieser designed the poster for each of the important forums of jazz in Germany. The musicians and bands whose concerts he has aroused anticipation for range from Jimi Hendrix and Emerson, Lake and Palmer to jazz greats like Chick Corea, Oscar Peterson and Coleman Hawkins. Kieser also designed posters for The Doors, The Who, Frank Zappa, Miles Davis and countless other world stars. For him, the poster was an art form in its own right, and you could always see that in his compositions.

After the Second World War, Günther Kieser studied at the Werkkunstschule Offenbach. While still a student, he was hired by concert promoter Horst Lippmann to design posters and record covers. Over the years, Kieser advanced to become a formative designer for jazz and rock. Quite a few of his posters, such as the one featuring Jimi Hendrix with cables growing out of his head, are still famous today. Kieser spared no expense in production: For some of his works, he had elaborate fantasy objects built. In the style of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, for example, he created a face consisting only of bent brass instruments. Works from the joint studio of Günther Kieser and Hans Michel were represented at documenta III in Kassel. His exhibitions culminated in a complete show at the Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt in 1995. From 1981 to 1992, Günther Kieser, who also designed stamps for Deutsche Post, was Professor of Visual Communication at the Bergische Universität Wuppertal (in succession to Willi Fleckhaus).

In his obituary published in the F.A.Z., Stefan Soltek, director of the Klingspor Museum in Offenbach am Main until 2021, writes: “Günther Kieser was a designer of posters, programme booklets and art catalogues, a creator of freely designed character heads (made of painted Styrofoam), a draughtsman of all the figures of Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’ (but only from signs of musical notation) – whatever he created, it was an expression of a deeply rooted humanity. The means for this consisted in the ability to draw, especially to depict the human figure, as well as in a power of invention that enabled Kieser to come up with a striking pictorial idea for any occasion.” According to Soltek, Kieser had always “meticulously worked out what was in the end poster” from an inspiration of the mind and an experimental shaping of materials. Creativity, long before the time of the computer.” What counted was the impact of the visual impression: “The typography”, Soltek says, “could be small – on the edge of readability; after all, it was the poster as a whole that burned itself unmistakably into the eye of the beholder as the leitmotif of a concert series”.

Wie seine Familie erst jetzt bekanntgegeben hat, ist Günther Kieser bereits am 22. März in Offenbach gestorben, zwei Tage vor seinem 93. Geburtstag.

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