Gerd Arntz (11 December 1900 – 4 December 1988) was born in a German family of traders and manufacturers, Gerd Arntz was a socially inspired and politically committed artist.
When Arntz was 19 years old, he was connected to the Cologne based ‘progressive artists group’ and depicted the life of workers and the class struggle in abstracted figures on woodcuts.
His work was noticed by Otto Neurath, a social scientist and founder of the Museum of Society and Economy in Vienna, Austria.
Neurath had developed a method to communicate complex information on society, economy and politics in simple images. For his ‘Vienna method of visual statistics’, he needed a designer who could make elementary signs, pictograms that could summarize a subject at a glance.
Arntz’s clear-cut style suited Neurath’s goals perfectly, and so he invited the young artists to come to Vienna in 1928, and work on further developing his method, later known as ISOTYPE, International System Of TYpographic Picture Education.
Eventually, Arntz designed around 4000 such signs, which symbolized keydata from industry, demographics, politics and economy. Otto Neurath saw that the proletariat, which until then had been virtually illiterate, were emancipating, stimulated by socialism. For their advancement, they needed knowledge of the world around them. This knowledge should not be shrined in opaque scientific language, but directly illustrated in straightforward images and a clear structure, also for people who could not, or hardly, read. Another outspoken goal of this method of visual statistics was to overcome barriers of language and culture, and to be universally understood. The pictograms designed by Arntz were systematically employed, in combination with stylized maps and diagrams. Neurath and Arntz made extensive collections of visual statistics in this manner, and their system became a world-wide emulated example of what we now term: infographics.
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