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Herbert Bayer collection

 Collection — Box: 1-2, Frame: 1
Identifier: CSC-0078

Scope and Contents

Mainly consisting of print samples, this collection is noteworthy for its emphasis on Bayer's work for CCA, in particular, the Great Ideas of Western Man series. A small number of World War II era advertisements and examples from the United States series are also present. This latter series featured illustrations representing each state by native state artists.

There is some representation of Bayer’s work in Germany. These include eine, zwei, and zehn million mark banknotes created for the Weimar Republic's State Bank of Thuringia (1923) and a framed print of the book cover: Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar 1919-1923 designed by Bayer and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (1923). There is one copy of Bayer's 1936 brochure: Deutschland Ausstellung, an exhibition for tourists of the Berlin Olympic Games. The brochure includes text and imagery of German history, the Third Reich, and Hitler.

Other items of interest include a poster and brochures of retrospective exhibitions at Denver Art Museum's Herbert Bayer Archive; a poster designed for Fortune magazine (1941): "Freedom of the Seas is in Your Backyard;" and "Libres," a poster created for the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (1942).


  • Creation: circa 1923-1968

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

Noted Bauhaus artist and visual communication pioneer Herbert Bayer was born April 5, 1900 in Haag, Austria. Enrolling at the Bauhaus at age 21, he studied there for two years under Wassily Kandinsky and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Bayer left the Bauhaus to travel in Italy, but returned as "Master of Typography" in the department of Typographie und Werbsachengestaltung (typography and advertising design). It was during this time that he created the Universal alphabet of only lower-case letters.

He left the school in 1928 to pursue his design career, first in Berlin, and then in the United States. In 1946, he moved to Aspen, Colorado to work as design consultant, and eventually Chairman of the Department of Design, for packaging firm Container Corporation of America (CCA) and visionary executive Walter Paepcke. Bayer's ads for CCA were known for their spare text and emphasis on visuals. Bayer explained:

These advertisements differed insofar from the usual copy-packed concept, as a limit of fifteen words was set for the text, thereby making the design the common denominator and the dominant element.1

Influenced by the Aspen Institute of Humanistic Studies, Paepcke, with Bayer as Art Director, created Great Ideas of Western Man, a series of CCA advertisements featuring Western philosophical quotations illustrated by renowned artists such as Rene Magritte, Ben Shahn, and Man Ray. What set these ads apart was that aside from the corporation's name, there is no mention of its products in the ads.

Later, Bayer would work for the Atlantic Richfield Oil Company, and as a printmaker, sculptor, and painter. In 1970, he was awarded the prestigious American Institute of Graphic Arts medal for exceptional contribution to design and visual communication. In 2008, artist and gallery director Hugo Anderson wrote:

Of all the artists associated with the Bauhaus during its brief 15 years, it is Herbert Bayer who actually devoted a lifetime to a career which incorporated the ideal of total integration of the arts, in design, advertising, architecture, public sculpture and painting.2

Herbert Bayer died in 1985 at his home in Montecito, California at age 85.

1 Great Ideas; Container Corporation of America. Edited by John Massey. Chicago: Container Corporation of America. Introduction by Herbert Bayer, pp.xi.

2 Herbert Bayer: Bauhaus and Beyond. Hugo Anderson, 2008. Retrieved 4/2011 from:


2.59 Linear Feet (2 oversize boxes, 1 framed print)




Collection of materials from graphic designer Herbert Bayer (1900-1985), mainly comprised of advertisements for Container Corporation of America, a few posters and exhibit brochures.


The collection is arranged in two series: Series I. Bibliographic records, circa 1923-1968; and Series II. Clients, circa 1923-1968.

Physical Location

Graphic Design Archives, Cary Collection Annex

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Herbert Bayer collection was donated to Rochester Institute of Technology in two accessions in March, 2008: one gift by Richard and Gwen Chanzit, and a second by R. Roger Remington. Inventory lists of each accession are available upon request.

Cary Graphic Arts Collection

World Geo-Graphic Atlas: A Composite of Man’s Environment. Edited and designed by Herbert Bayer. Chicago: Privately printed for Container Corporation of America, 1953.

Located in the Cary Collection, The Wallace Center. Call # cc 094 B357 W927w.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Amy Vilz, April 2011

Finding aid encoded by Megan Moltrup, February 2012

Herbert Bayer collection
Ready To Publish
Cary Graphic Design Archives
Megan Moltrup
13 February 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection Repository

Rochester NY 14623 US
(585) 475-2408