A Brief History of the Brno Biennial

The cultural and political backdrop to the Brno Biennial’s origins was 1960s’ Czechoslovakia, with artists and designers asserting their right to free artistic expression while also comparing their work with that produced by their international counterparts.

The First Czechoslovak Exhibition of Poster and Promotional Graphics was organised by the Moravian Gallery, Brno, in 1964. From 1966 onwards, regular international exhibitions embracing a wide spectrum of graphic design were to follow. The original multi-thematic structure of the Brno Biennial comprised three exhibition disciplines. After 1968, one of these disciplines – exhibition design – was abandoned, as it proved too demanding. Two basic subjects have alternated at the Brno Biennial since 1970: (1) poster, corporate identity, information and promotional graphics; and (2) graphic design and typography in books, magazines, newspapers and the digital media.

Many eminent figures in graphic design have taken part in the Brno Biennial over the years, whether as exhibiting artists, members of international juries, or lecturers at international symposia. The Biennial has played host to such graphic design luminaries as Saul Bass, Roman Cieślewicz, Wim Crouwel, Alan Fletcher, Adrian Frutiger, Shigeo Fukuda, Milton Glaser, Ivan Chermayeff, Seymour Chwast, Mitsuo Katsui, Herb Lubalin, Ladislav Sutnar, Josef Týfa, Tadanori Yokoo, and Hermann Zapf.

For over five decades, the Brno Biennial has provided a major international platform for exhibitions, discussions, and relevant accompanying programmes on the dynamically expanding field of graphic design and its importance to visual culture.