Last year I found a collection of silkscreen prints for sale – 12 in total. They were unsigned, they weren’t numbered, there was no stamp on the paper, nothing to indicate who they were by.
There seemed to be something 1970s about them. This was just a hunch; they had been framed more recently, but there was something about the fluidity of their execution and the colourways that suggested this time frame. Last week I got around to photographing all of the pieces and then undertook the somewhat laborious task of correcting all of the images so that the distortion of the camera lens was removed and that the images once again looked square.
I posted one image on Instagram and listed the others on our website. My friend, Kate Gibb – herself a screenprinter of some repute – sent me a message back enquiring about them and by happenstance I was at her door delivering one of the prints on Sunday afternoon. In turn she posted a picture of her print on Instagram and the hive mind of Instagram got to work and later that day we could put an attributed name to the works: Benno Wissing.
Benno Wissing was a Dutch graphic designer of some repute – he designed the waymarking signage at Schipol airport and the logo for Makro. He also produced a mass of work for various theatres including these prints for Stadsschouwburg in Utrecht. These silkscreens were used as an overlay on top of the calendar of events. Whether Wissing made our prints as precursors to the posters as test pulls of the ink, or whether he made them after the event is not obvious. They stand alone as strong pieces of art. As you can see from the images of the posters below not all of the prints that we have either made it to the poster format or were documented.
Benno Wissing died in 2008. He was given a lifetime achievement award by the Dutch Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture in 1996.