Niklaus Stoecklin was a leading exponent of the Swiss poster design movement of the 1940’s and 50’s. Born in 1896 he was influenced by his grandfather who was an entomologist and illustrator for scientific journals. In 1915, he held his first art show, in his native town of Basel, Switzerland.
In his early twenties he started experimenting with his style, and quickly became a leading exponent of the “Das Neue Leben” (The New Life) art movement. In this he combined the emotion of the expressionist with his love of clean realism. During tis time he also did some typographical poster work in a Bauhaus fashion.
In the 1920’s and 30’s he was part of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) art movement, which arose partially from the Dadaist perspective of critical expression of cultural values, yet tempered with realism, showing the beauty of the commonplace objects and scenes of life. He was also part of the Magic Realism movement which was similar to the New Objectivity, but with a surrealist twist.
In the 1940’s he focused on graphic design, both in posters and illustrations. He brought the sensitivity and clean styles of the art movements he had been part of into the commercial realm, by presenting the products he was advertising for in a clean fashion that came to be the hallmark of the Swiss poster design movement.
Stoecklin’s posters were typical of the Swiss design movement: clean, precise, detailed, with a realistic style that was obviously painted, as opposed to the ever more present photographic style that was slowly becoming dominant at the time.
His work shows the beautiful simplicity of objects, and with minimal copy text (which is important in a country with four national languages).