To celebrate the opening of Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color (May 11, 2018-January 13, 2019), Object of the Day this month will feature colorful objects from the exhibition.

Niklaus Troxler (Swiss, b. 1947) designed this boldly colored poster in 2005 for the annual Willisau Jazz Festival, an event he co-founded in 1975.  Here, Troxler engages with two optical motifs: complementary colors and stripes.  The background of the poster is made up of vertical stripes of black and white.  At the top and bottom, lines of text advertise the date of the festival and the featured performers, with letters alternating between black and white as they cross the stripes.  This serves a practical function, rendering the words legible, while also emphasizing Troxler’s high-contrast pattern.

Superimposed over the black and white stripes are the silhouettes of musicians Bob Stuart (American, b. 1945) (tuba) and Arthur Blythe (American, 1940-2017) (saxophone) in red and green stripes, respectively.  Troxler’s dramatic juxtaposition of complementary colors makes it challenging for the eye to comprehend both figures at once; instead one’s focus tends to jump between the silhouettes and colors, in an effect not unlike a vibration. Troxler has angled Stewart’s profile slightly forward and Blythe’s back towards the right of the poster, as if capturing both in motion; one pushing forward on a note, the other leaning out, in image as in music, full of syncopation.

Troxler’s unbounded and confident designs for the festival revel with an eclectic and seemingly spontaneous energy that suggests visual engagement with the sounds of jazz.  The Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design Department is delighted to have seventeen examples of the designer’s festival work.


Caroline O’Connell is the Collections Assistant in the Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design Department. 

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