Paul Schuitema
Dutch, 1897 - 1973
Advertising Leaflet, c. 1929

image:   H. 11 x W. 8 3/8 in.
sheet:   H. 16 5/8 x W. 13 in.

While the trade press was still discussing the advantages and disadvantages of photography in advertising, Paul Schuitema was developing an edgy form of layout that introduced many new innovations: the photocollage, photomontage, and cinematic picture narratives with shifting perspectives. From 1926 to 1928 he worked with the Schiedam photographer Jan Kamman, one of the first to explore the full potential of modern photography.

Schuitema worked for the NV Maatschappij Van Berkel Patent in Rotterdam, manufacturers of machine equipment, who gave him a free hand to experiment with new techniques and materials in the designing of their commercial advertising. He designed their trademark and stationery and a wide variety of advertisements, brochures, and catalogues. The aim was to "use the minimum means for maximum effect." Ironically, the speed with which they are perceived is in inverse proportion to the time spent in their elaborate production, particularly the skills required by engravers who made the letterpress blocks.

It is quite likely this work was a preliminary study for more complex designs, variations on themes, one being an advertisement titled, "He Hit the Highest, Berkel’s Patent, Rotterdam," produced nine years later. Most of Schuitema’s typographic compositions are quite austere, showing a preference for sans serif type and cut-out photographic forms contrasting sharply against red tinted areas. The photomontage became a familiar component of modern graphic design throughout the 1930s.