Bewogen Beweging poster: Dieter Roth

Curator: Julia Zeltser
date: April 17, 2013
Categories: Advertising, Environmental Design
Tags: Dieter Roth, MoMA, Poster
Dieter Roth, exhibition poster for Bewogen Beweging, 1961

I recently visited MoMA with my husband and kids. Pushing a stroller, I rushed through most of the exhibition “Wait, Later This Will Be Nothing: Editions by Dieter Roth.” (A Swiss artist, known to me for his unusual geometric books). Untouched by his cold graphic work, I paused in front of a high contrast poster for Bewogen Beweging (“Moving movement”), a traveling exhibition of kinetic art in 1961. Roth participated in and designed the poster for the exhibition. 


The poster has a black background with silkscreened white and die cut circles. The bottom of the composition is set in sans-serif typeface, similar to Interstate. Since the artwork was hanging sandwiched between two glass panels on the white museum wall, the die-cut holes revealed the white wall beneath, and together the printed and cut shapes visually overlapped. Imagine copies of this black-and-white poster pasted on walls previously containing advertising, or paint, or brick. These circular “windows” revealed glimpses of life underneath. The poster intended to be viewed differently depending on its environment. The museum’s white walls didn’t do justice to the artist’s original intention!


In branding, the changing content of the “window” or shape has been used as a device to suggest diversity, multi-dimensionality or the evolution of a brand. Take NYC, for example, designed by Wolff Olins, or South Australia redesigned by Cato Partners. Beautiful images can be composed in any window. We’ve seen it used freely. It’s always tasteful, often safe and recently uninspiring. 

But this 1961 poster hanging in MoMA suggested envornmental interaction that printed posters don’t have today. Yes, it was a “window” trick in a medium and format we don’t think of as interactive.  When was the last time an informational poster printed on paper interacted with you? The only instance that comes to mind is vandalized NYC subway posters, where the top layer of the poster is cut to reveal the lower one. It rarely has a desired or exciting outcome. 

Julia Zeltser
Dieter Roth, exhibition poster for Bewogen Beweging, 1961

Julia Zeltser
Dieter Roth, exhibition poster for Bewogen Beweging, 1961

Roth’s poster was purposeful, bold and interactive, with an invitation to imagine more. I handed the stroller and kids to my husband and walked back to the front of exhibition to see it all over again. That’s the power of one poster! 

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