Ogg for Donatello Exhibit at Staatliche Museen zu Berlin


Berlin-based design studios polyform & studio edgar kandratian spearheaded branding and visual identity for a Donatello retrospective currently on display at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. The studios chose the distinctive curves of Ogg to define the show's typography and messaging. The figurative and literal scale of the project is impressive, its scope extending to campaign, print, and exhibition. The rollout has been similarly well-documented, and it's a pleasure to see Lucas Sharp's homage to Oscar Ogg printed on building-spanning banners, subway posters, and used throughout the exhibit as the primary display font.

Donatello was one of the founders of the Italian Renaissance. The Florentine sculptor's works are characterized by technical innovations and revolutionized the artistic practice of their time. As part of a one-off collaboration between the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi  and the Musei del Bargello in Florence, this is the first exhibition to be held in Germany focusing on Donatello. Across some 90 works, many of them key works in his oeuvre that have never before been shown together, a panorama emerges that sparks the realization that the story of Donatello is also the story of the Renaissance. This story is headlined by Ogg. The studios' varied use of Ogg, from all-caps to all-lowercase to the forward-rolling of the /O in the titling, really capture the versatility of the typeface.


Says polyform's Katrin Middel, "Donatello - noble simplicity and quiet grandeur. This is the motto under which we designed the campaign for the grandiose Donatello exhibition in the Gemäldegalerie Berlin." Ogg was inspired by its namesake lettering artist's book jacket designs, and the typeface's timeless elegance has already made it a contemporary classic. 

"Close-ups of the main motifs bring the great emotional power of the works into focus," continues Katrin. "The typography is inspired by ancient and renaissance fonts. A subtle intervention in the typography adapts the orientation of the letters to the viewing directions of the sculptures."


Donatello (ca. 1386–1466) was a versatile and pioneering force who experimented tirelessly with a range of different materials, new techniques, and innovative forms of aesthetic expression. He applied the forms of perspectival representation he had constructed using lines and vanishing points to the relief, and worked not only with marble and bronze, but also with terracotta and stucco. These materials had scarcely been used since antiquity and enjoyed renewed popularity during the Renaissance. A host of masterpieces attest to Donatello’s extraordinary levels of productivity and imagination, and constitute some of the major milestones of Italian Renaissance art.

All photos by Alex Butz.


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