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Home/Stories and articles/Recovery
April 2005

A history of Chilean graphic design unforgettable images

The book Historia del diseño grafico en Chile (A history of Chile's graphic design), by Pedro Alvarez Caselli, resvalues Chilean graphic patrimony, asn an Art form and visual code that becomes part of a tale of our social, political, economical and cultural development.

By Rosario Mena

That builder from the Cemente Polpaico logo, or the housemaid of the Klenzo cleaner box are publicity images that, with the passing of time, have become icons of our visual history. Somehow, they say something about a specific moment's language and aesthetic, and install themselves in our memory synthesizing at least part of our identity or connecting our thoughts with products that are a complete part of our daily life.

The boxes from the Copihue and Los Andes matches, the cover of the Silabario Hispano-Americano, the builder of Cemento Polpaico, or the Klenzo box, are all good examples of graphics that are already incorporated to the collective imaginary, and that have enough strength and emotional power to be considered Art (that's why we find them in the work of painters such as Arturo Duclos, Bruna Truffa and Gonzalo Diaz).

This is something that only goes to show the impact of those shapes, formats and typographies that have become unforgettable, and that may identify a whole generation that grew with them. There's a newspaper, a magazine, an ad that are part of our biography. It's the same with every publicity, every magazine picture, every record cover or every typography that has been used; they are all the result of a certain style choice and, so, part of Chile’s cultural heritage.

Since the start of printing in Chile, during the Colonial times, until the latest designing trends, the book Historia del diseño grafico en Chile, by Pedro Alvarez (designed by Eduardo Castillo and Mariana Muñoz) rescues these kind of popular icons and tells the story of the biggest influences, trends, exponents, best works, etc. It is an effort that, for the first time in this country, has been focused as part of a local reality narration.

Contrary to the majority of books about the history of design, which usually concentrate on aesthetical vanguards, this one collects that popular graphic work we see around us all the time, and which contains several cultural clues. Going throughout its pages we get to understand several contextual and social situations, such as our economical growth, editorial decisions, technical and scientific advances, urban life, etc., which all find a paralell tale in the design of newspapers, magazines, brochures, products, ads, logos, posters, shop-windows, publicity. Then we end up looking to the ubiquitous contemporary design, which works closely with new technologies.

Without pretending to become a thorough compendium of Chilean graphical design, this book is a basic document for facing the investigation about the visual language that goes with the development of any idea, and that shows the transformation that has always defined modernity. That's the graphic design that invades our public an private spaces every day, gaining new forms and ways of expression and acquiring more power in the contemporary information and consumer sociaty.

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