The women’s face, contorted in pain, grabs the viewer’s attention. The entire focus in the radical composition of Josef Müller-Brockmann’s (1914–1996) 1960 poster is on this photograph, accompanied by two words: “weniger Lärm” (less noise). Müller-Brockmann thus created a strong signal protesting the noise pollution that since the 1950s was becoming an ever greater problem.
In the 1930s, the car and the airplane began to be celebrated as symbols of progress. A fascination with technology and the cult of speed also found new expression in the poster. With his well-known prevention posters for the Automobile Club of Switzerland in the early 1950s, Josef Müller-Brockmann drew the public’s attention instead to the dangerous side of this new mobility. In collaboration with Ernst A. Heiniger (1909–1993), and later with Serge Libiszewski (b. 1930), he focused for the first time in these posters on the use of photography. The dramatic blow-up effects did not fail to have the desired impact. By the 1950s, the issue of noise pollution was also coming to the fore, initially in the form of construction and aircraft noise. For his poster weniger Lärm (Less Noise), Müller-Brockmann once again relied on photography, this time with the oversized depiction of a face. The image of a woman covering both ears with her hands, tilted fifty degrees, is wedged into the picture space in such a way that her entire body echoes the pain expressed on her face. Her cropped arms create a diagonal that works with the line formed by the head and the typography to form a cross signaling opposition. The seeming simplicity of the composition is precisely what make it so effective—something Müller-Brockmann was unable to achieve in his other drafts for the project. It is therefore hardly a coincidence that the same poster motif was taken up again and again, for example in a 2003 poster protesting against flights landing in Zurich from the south. (Bettina Richter)