Anthon Beeke

Holland Festival

33 x 46 in. (83 x 118 cm)

Condition: There is a light crease across the bottom left corner of the poster.

An ode to Dutch graphic design

A highly influential figure in the Dutch graphic design world, Anthon Beeke (1940-1918) was known for his use of startling and provocative imagery. His career took off in 1969 when he published his Naked Ladies typeface, in which he configured photographs of women’s bodies to form each letter. His most famous posters relied on shock value, incorporating controversial and explicit photographs, while other work was more restrained but always attention-grabbing.

Beeke was invited for several years to design the poster for the Holland Festival, a performing arts festival held annually in Amsterdam since 1947. Beeke joined the ranks of outstanding Dutch designers who had previously been honored with the task of designing the festival’s poster. 

Beeke’s poster for the 1995 Holland Festival is a masterpiece of typography and composition in which he pays tribute to two exceptional Dutch graphic designers of earlier generations.

The typography is a direct reference to the work of Piet Zwart, a pioneering modernist typographer. Specifically, Beeke has mirrored the composition of Zwart’s 1930 advertisement for Dutch printing company Drukkerij Trio, with it’s groupings of disparate typefaces and the diagonal rush of lettering across the page, but he has replaced Zwart’s random text with the name of the festival.

Piet Zwart, page from Drukkerij Trio, 1930

Beeke also made the unusual choice of superimposing the text over the image of an entire poster by Dick Elffers, another giant of Dutch graphic design who designed many posters for the Holland Festival. Beeke shows Elffers’s 1946 poster for an exhibition on the Dutch resistance movement during World War II.

Dick Elffers, Weerbare Democratie (Resilient Democracy), 1946

The layering of Zwart’s typographic techniques over Elffers’s painterly poster design brings together two dominant strands 20th-century graphic design in the Netherlands – the daring modernism of pioneers such as Zwart, and the figurative, softer modernism of Elffers and many other talented Dutch designers.  

The layering of graphic images also cleverly addresses the very nature of posters – creations that are quickly obscured by the next advertisement to claim the space.

Holland Festival