Christoph Niemann gained his reputation as one of the most recognized international illustrators and graphic designers after 1997 when he left Germany to live in New York. His work has appeared on the covers of The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and American Illustration whilst his corporate clients include Google and The Museum of Modern Art. For his column in the New York Times blog Abstract City he draws and writes essays about politics, the economy, art and modern life. With few concise strokes he encapsulates the essence of daily life in a profound and humorous way. In 2008 he moved back to Germany where his illustrations meanwhile cover the Zeit Magazin among others. Niemann is the author of many books, most recently "Abstract City" and "The Potato King".
"The root of Niemann’s storytelling comes down to how he sees things – major and minor things, and otherwise imperceptible things – and how he reinterprets them as art and design. Abstract City is not illustration in the conventional sense, rather a kind of visual thinking that is as rational as science and as irrational as art. It is a curiously entertaining but also forward-thinking vision, that appeals to senses on various levels. Each piece is so distinct that they can appear to have come from a different person. Niemann is stylistically ambidextrous yet also attitudinally consistent. Clearly, what draws him to a particular style is critical to his visual decision-making. ‘I am a designer by education, and my approach to styles is similar to a designer and his typefaces,’ he says. ‘There are styles that are fashionable, and sometimes I find myself trying to find a venue for a spiffy pencil drawing, but ultimately it is always the idea that dictates what style I must use. Every idea needs a pretty exact amount of realism / abstraction, certain emotional warmth or cold graphic objectivity. I try to constantly broaden my range, and adapt new ways of solving problems, not out of vanity, but because it’s essential to my approach.’"
Steve Heller, Storytelling Giant in Eye Magazine, London 2009
Image: Galerie Max Hetzler celebrates 40 years of VfB Stuttgart, 2013, 4-7 colours, silkscreen print, 29,4 x 23 cm
Video on rbb Stilbruch: Christoph Niemann
Video on DW channel: Talk with Illustrator Christoph Niemann
Selected Institutional Exhibitions
Galerie Max Hetzler celebrates 40 years of VfB Stuttgart
36 silkscreen prints from the VfB Stuttgart series, shown in the exhibition "Christoph Niemann", 2013
edition of 11
Hello, Robot. Design Between Human and Machine (group show)
Vienna Biennale, MAK, Vienna
21 June - 1 October 2017
SVA Theatre, New York
2 October 2017, from 7 pm
In conjunction with the exhibition, Niemann will share his musings, insights and process during a talk on Monday, October 2, 7:00pm, at the SVA ...