Wolfgang Weingart is an internationally recognized figure for his iconic body of work in the field of graphic designing and typography. His work is characterized as Swiss Typography. Moreover he is deemed the pioneer of ‘New Wave’ or Swiss Punk typography.
Weingart was born in 1941 in Constance at the northern foot of the Alps in southern Germany. He spent most part of his childhood in Germany and for a brief period moved to Lisbon with his family, in 1954. Four years later, he returned to Germany and enrolled himself at the Merz Academy in Stuttgart. There he opted for a two year program in applied graphic arts. While studying, he developed certain skills including linocut, woodblock printing and typesetting. Then he began a three-year apprenticeship at Ruwe Printing, where he learned typesetting in hot metal hand composition. He also had the opportunity to come across the company’s consulting designer, Karl-August Hanke. Hanke took up the role as his mentor and encouraged him to continue his studies in Switzerland.
In 1963, Weingart relocated in Basel after meeting Emil Ruder and Armin Hofmann. He attended the Schule für Gestaltung Basel (Basel School of Design), as an independent student. In 1968, he was requested to teach typography at the institution’s newly established department Weiterbildungsklasse für Grafik. He was one of the highly inspiring teachers the international Advanced Program for Graphic Design had until 2005. He accepted the teaching position at the Yale Summer Program in Graphic Design in Brissago, Switzerland, upon Armin Hofmann’s request. In 1976, he designed a poster for photographer John Glagola which presented wide silver bars printed across the artist’s name. The poster depicted the decline of foundry type as a viable commercial means of printing.
For over four decade Weingart has extensively taught and delivered lectures across Europe, Asia, New Zealand, North and South America, and Australia. According to him, he never influenced his students to adopt a certain type of style, especially his own. However, his students misunderstood his teaching as his own style and spread it around as ‘Weingart style’. A retrospective of Weingart’s work was mounted by The Museum of Design in Zurich from May to September in 2014. The exhibition, Weingart: Typography, was the first one to showcase his personal work along with the product of his teaching.
Weingart wrote a retrospective book on typography, which Lars Müller Publishers compiled in a volume in ten sections, Weingart: Typography –– My Way to Typography, in 2000. Furthermore, several designers, Knapp, Susan, Hofmann, Dorothea, Michael, collaborated on Weingart: The Man and the Machine. The book, published by Karo Publishing in 2014, is comprised of statements by 77 of Weingart’s students at the Basel School of Design during the period 1968–2004.
From 1978 to 1999, Wolfgang Weingart served as the member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI). Also he offered his services on the editorial board of the magazine, Typographische Monatsblätter, for eighteen long years. The honorary title of Doctor of Fine Arts was conferred upon him by MassArt in 2005. The American Institute of Graphic Arts recognized his creative genius and for his typographic explorations and teaching, awarded him the highest honor of the design profession, AIGA Medal, in 2013. The following year the Federal Office of Culture presented him the Swiss Grand Prix of Design award. He was nominated for the award for his life-long merits as a designer.