Image: Otto Neurath hired artist Gerd Arntz in 1928 to begin the professional design of a visual language for the public communication of historical and statistical information. The image above is an example of one of Arntz designs.
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“In 1921, Otto Neurath became secretary of the Cooperative Housing and Allotment Association in Vienna, a public housing program. From an administrative and political standpoint, he remained interested in central management but shifted towards guild socialism—according to which professional guilds, common in Vienna, acquired enhanced social and political roles. Having directed the Museum of War Economy of Leipzig in 1918, his educational and social ambitions led him to found a similar institution in Vienna, and he became Director of the Settlement Museum or Museum of City Planning (1919–1924), soon renamed Social and Economic Museum (1924–1934), supporting and communicating reform policies on housing, health and education. The methods of visual education started out of these resources and his exhibitions became internationally renowned and commissioned (Burke et al. 2014).
The application of simple colors and figures along with the use of lino-cutting and printing methods were best for the production of graphic symbols; but they were all alien to Vienna’s recent artistic movements. One of the earliest artists willing and able to work in those formats was Erwin Bernath, a Swiss living in Vienna. Neurath’s displays at the GESOLEI exhibition (Große Ausstellung für Gesundheit, soziale Fürsorge und Leibesübungen) in Düsseldorf in 1926 provided the occasion for Neurath’s acquaintance with the Cologne artist Gerd Arntz. Arntz had held similar revolutionary socialist views in Germany after 1918. He published his expressive modernist clear-cut figures combining the dramatic contrast and simplicity of the woodcut and linocut techniques of German expressionism and the geometrical clarity, order and simplicity of Russian Constructivism. Neurath hired him in 1928 to begin the professional design of a visual language for the public communication of historical and statistical information.”
Arntz designed around 4000 signs, which symbolized key data from industry, demographics, politics and economy, for the visual language Isotype.