Max Huber (1919-1992) was one of the 20th century’s most significant graphic designers. His work reveals the teaching of the great masters of the Modern Movement and the influence of the Milanese post-war artistic climate. Huber, with a pragmatic training in Zurich, applied the aesthetics of the avant-garde and European Rationalism to graphic design, translating the themes into formal inventions. Among the numerous works he produced were graphic designs for posters, books and magazines, as well as publications by some of the most important Italian publishing houses, such as Einaudi and Etas. His graphic works are still outstanding and noteworthy for their singular qualities; nor should we overlook the celebrity he won by designing the logotypes for La Rinascente department stores, the Esselunga chain of supermarkets and the design of the brand for the Coin department stores. He also worked with the Castiglioni brothers, designing the graphics for installations for the Rai, Eni, Montecatini and Radio italiana.
Max Huber’s artistic contribution to photography, especially with graphic design, developed around his interest in abstract composition and was inspired by the experiments of the European avant-garde, making a significant contribution internationally in this field.
Max Huber was born in Baar, Zug, in 1919. After attending the Gymnasium, he studied graphic art at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich, where he followed Alfred Willimann’s lessons with particular interest. In this period he came to know many Swiss graphic designers and artists, including Werner Bischof, Emil Schultess, Josef Müller-Brockmann, Carlo Vivarelli, Hans Falk, Hans Neuburg and Max Bill. Eager for new experiences, Max Huber found work in Milan in 1940 with Antonio Boggeri’s prestigious graphic design office, where he met Bruno Munari, Luigi Veronesi and Albe Steiner. Just a year later he was forced to return to Switzerland because of the difficult political situation. Max Bill invited him to join the Allianz group, the association of modern Swiss artists active in the current of Concrete Art, whose members included Hans Arp and Richard Paul Lohse.
In October 1945 he returned to Milan. With Albe Steiner he created the graphic design for the 8th Triennial in 1947. At this time he met Giulio Einaudi, who made him creative director of graphic design at his publishing house. In the same year he devised the graphic design and the small catalogue for the exhibition of Abstract and Concrete Art curated by Max Bill with Lanfranco Bombelli Tiravanti at the prestigious exhibition venue of the Palazzo Reale in Milan. In 1949, also in Milan, he joined the Concrete Art Movement founded the previous year by Gillo Dorfles, Gianni Monnet, Bruno Munari and Atanasio Soldati, and contributed to its design portfolio. Later, in the 1950s, he distinguished himself in the field of graphics. Notable works included the new logo for La Rinascente department store, the Coin chain of stores, Nava and Esselunga supermarkets, as well as the installations for Omega and Flos showrooms in Milan. In those years he began his intense collaboration with the architects and designers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, contributing his archi-graphic design to the numerous trade fair installations created for Rai, Eni and Montecatini (later Montedison). Public recognition was not slow in following and in 1954 Max Huber received the Compasso d’Oro, the Italian design award, for his design of a plastic fabric. Also noteworthy was his long and continuous commitment to education begun in Milan in 1947 at the Rinascita school, continued from 1959 to 1962 at L’Umanitaria, and resumed in the 1970s with his teaching at the Scuola Politecnica di Design headed by Bruno Munari with Nino Di Salvatore. From 1978 to 1984 Max Huber took his teaching experience to Switzerland, teaching graphic design at the CSIA-Centro Scolastico Industrie Artistiche in Lugano. He died on 16 November 1992.