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In the mid-1920s, Otto Neurath and his team developed the “Vienna Method of Pictorial Statistics”. In political emigration (NL, UK), this became Isotype (International System of Typographic Picture Education). After Neurath’s death, at least four different lines of development continued this visual education work from 1945: his widow Marie Neurath was at the head of the Isotype Institute in England until 1971, and graphic artist Gerd Arntz continued the pictorial work in The Hague. Rudolf Modley, a former colleague and later rival of Neurath, made a successful career as an information designer in the USA. And finally, the Social and Economic Museum was reopened at its place of origin, Vienna.

Isotype leaflet, c.1935. Front page. (Otto and Marie Neurath Isotype Collection, University of Reading)

The aim of the research project is to write the first comprehensive history of Isotype, in which the precursors and the interwar period in Vienna will be treated equally to the development in emigration (The Hague, Oxford), the international branches of the Viennese Museum, and the main lines of development after 1945 in England, the Netherlands, the USA, and Austria. In addition, the theoretical and programmatic dimension of Isotype will be systematically examined for the first time, and the question of the current importance of pictorial language will be addressed.

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