This month, MUBI is playing four films by the great German documentarian Heinz Emigholz. Called “the film world’s most acute observer of architecture” by Variety, Emigholz has been making beautiful, structural, contemplative and rigorous films since 1972.
Art Forum wrote in 2010 that:
Emigholz is best known these days for his meticulous, meditative architecture films, composed of stationary shots of a particular architect’s buildings. His early 1970s work, even more fastidious in its spatial and geometric precision, has clear affinities with the structuralist-materialist American avant-garde of the period.
I was first struck by this beautiful poster, above, for his 2013 film The Airstrip and, digging deeper, I discovered a whole series of posters for Emigholz’s work which adhere to a similar deceptively utilitarian style. (The Airstrip is actually unusually baroque, composed as it is from multiple images.)
Since 2002, Emigholz’s posters have all been designed by the Berlin graphic design agency Moniteurs, most specifically by Stefan Kanter (except for Goff in the Desert and D’Annunzio’s Cave which were designed by Berit Kaiser von Rhoden with artwork for Goff by Ueli Etter) always in association with Emigholz himself. Kanter told me:
Usually Heinz has a very clear idea about how the poster should look. He brings 2 or 3 interesting stills from the movie and together we choose the best picture detail. Most of the time there is already a color established from the film’s intertitles. And then it’s my job to add the type and make it as legible as possible on the often rather wild background images.
Because Emigholz groups his works into series (Photography and Beyond 1974-2013, Architecture as Autobiography 1993-2012; Decampment of Modernism 2012-2014) he insists that his posters look like part of a series too. The title of the film is almost always in the same place (starting two thirds down the page, or one third down for the Streetscapes series) and, as Kanter pointed out to me, “in the first years he always wanted to find a triangular form in the upper left corner [as you see when you look at the first eight designs below], but in recent years he didn’t mind that anymore. I never asked him why.”
The posters are presented below in chronological order. I’ve substituted DVD covers—using the same designs—when posters couldn’t be found.
Many thanks to Stefan Kanter for his help and also to Viviana Kammel at Filmgalerie 451.