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To Albe Steiner

Albe Steiner, was e man of intuition, theoretical knowledge and impressive culture, unanimously deemed one of the most distinguished designers in Italy in the fifties. His influence was the foundation of the Scuola Umanitaria, along with the unforgettable Riccardo Bauer. Steiner’s greatest contribution was to transform graphics from an instrument of hidden persuasion into a vehicle of culture for all social classes; he was always critical of consumerism and false needs. He loved humanity.

I remember that Steiner once told me that creating a beautiful page and being oneself is the same thing. At first I thought, “Yes, but you are Albe Steiner.” Then I understood that in order to draw a good page, you need to establish a set of values that you feel totally attuned and committed to. I would like to express my gratitude to Albe Steiner and the Scuola Umanitaria for what I learned from them. Armando Milani

He used to say, “What’s the point of doing things if we cannot share them with others?” He aimed at reaching the user of mass communication who is ultimately the real customer. He wanted to educate graphic designers using ideas, method, technique and the ability to analyze and synthesize. I was one of his students. I was like a sponge with him, always trying to assimilate every single word of his into my profession. He made me realize that there is no creativity without culture, that the starting point is professional ethics and that beauty must be appropriate to the message we want to communicate.

100 posters from the eye to the heart

Armando Milani foreword by Francesco Dondina and Pierre Restany



Armando Milani, visual storyteller The poster is perhaps the visual artifact that more than any other conveys a sense of the job of the graphic designer: a sort of twodimensional stage on which many of the scenes that have marked the evolution of graphic design, through a continuous turnover of styles, languages and techniques, have been enacted. And the poster is the medium through which graphic designers of all eras have managed to best express their inventive capacities, applying all their technical and experimental faculties to make the communication of an idea extraordinarily effective, thanks to the poise of a precise narrative synthesis. If it is true that the poster embodies a subtle alchemy of translation and transmission, from the idea to the message, Armando Milani is undoubtedly a master of this art, a tireless inventor of devices of logical-visual meaning. In his posters words and signs directly target our senses, and like his compositional architecture they do it in a clear, transparent way. The ingredients with which he constructs his narrative formulas are simple and essential, always deployed to make the communication more effective. His thought mechanism is linear and proceeds through sequential passages, in keeping with a rational logic, always far from useless conceptualism and superfluous indulgence. Milani creates true stories that are always striking thanks to the force of irony,

metaphor, oxymoron and all the linguistic expedients he knows how to apply with intelligent elegance and measure. With his posters, Armando Milani becomes a sort of reporter/graphic artist, a visual chronicler who investigates and records the feelings and passions of a humanity always wavering between salvation and perdition; an attentive, painstaking and punctual witness, revealing the dramas of contemporary civilization, such as war, pollution, migrations, hunger, violence against the weak: topics that are always timely, never banal. In his voyage of gazes on the world, he forces us to stop and reflect on that sense of civil and political responsibility that should accompany our every thought, our every action, following in the footsteps of that immense example of life and professional accomplishment, Albe Steiner, who was Armando’s teacher at the Scuola Umanitaria, and the figure he emulated in the practice of graphic design. It would be hard to make a ranking of the best posters of Armando Milani. Were I to have to attempt it, I could indicate three of them that are – and always will be – true icons in the history of graphic design: Cineclub Brera in 1975, Napoli from 1988, and Peace/War from 2003. Francesco Dondina Milan, April 2017



Clarity is a virtue Armando Milani is an exceptional example of the culture of design. Design is how he expresses himself: direct, global and synthetic. Applying his training and collaborating with the great masters of design, Milani has developed a heightened sensibility to human problems. Photography and typography are the key elements of his creative dialogue. His American experience of more than twenty years in New York has combined with his Italian culture and Bauhaus influences, to infuse his philosophy of a project with pragmatism and humor, so characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon thinking process. A great graphic adventurer, Armando Milani is a master of posters, logos and visual identities. His secret is the power of the poet: to concentrate the maximum information in clear, clean and unambiguous solutions. He is an expert in the direct message. There is an immediacy to his communication that lifts the heart and soul of the viewer.

His recent poster of the Dove of Peace that eradicates the power of the word “War”by gently lifting the letter “a” to complete the word “Peace”, is a masterpiece of synthesis and precision that unites irony and hope to induce a profound emotion and reflection by people from every part of the world. At the Moulin des Trois Arcs, in Provence, Armando Milani has created an international school of graphic design where students come to learn the principles of design based on his own language and philosophy of visual communication. It is a chance to learn from one of the greatest living designers. In 2003, in the midst of globalization and information, a creator of ambiguity and confusion, Armando Milani remains a master of communication in the profound beauty of his simplicity. The beautiful things express themselves clearly; this clarity is a virtue. Pierre Restany Paris, May 25, 2003

Milani is a pioneer in today’s graphic communication. His creative vision extends to every kind of information, from culture to politics, always guided by a basic humanitarian philosophic sense.



The art of the poster The first posters appeared as an art form more than a hundred years ago and, I am sure, they will still be there in the future. Posters evolved from Toulouse Lautrec, who at the end of the 19th century used lithography in full colors, to Cassandre, who created images with self made typefaces, to the Russian Constructivist El Lissitzky who introduced the combination of photography and typography with linear typefaces and the limitation of colors to red and black only. “El Lissitzky use to say: typographic design should perform optically what the speaker creates through voice and gesture for his thoughts. An effective poster must first seduce the eye and then address the intelligence of the viewer”. Then there were the masters of the Swiss School, like Max Bill and Müller-Brockmann, Armin Hoffmann and Max Huber who used primary colors only and sans serif types. Italians were also in the forefront of the field, like Franco Grignani famous for his warped photographs, Giovanni Pintori who invented new images for Olivetti, and Albe Steiner with his political posters. We must not forget the Poles like Henryk Tomacezsky, the Americans like Saul Bass, Paul Rand, Ivan Chermayeff with his beautiful collages and Milton Glaser with his fantastic

illustrations. Last but not least, there are the Japanese like Ikko Tanaka and the surrealist Shigeo Fukuda. I have just mentioned a few of the greatest masters of poster design. It would take a whole book to include them all. I particularly like the poster of mine substituting a snake for cigarette smoke (page 49). Another favorite of mine is the poster CineClub Brera, designed for movies about revolution (page 110). Both are examples of an image that doesn’t need any explanation. These images stand out because the associations they make have a strong impact on the mind and create semantic ambiguity, which makes the viewer to think. The hand can be interpreted as opening or closing - it is a mystery that  challenges the intellect and provokes our emotions. This interaction catches the attention of the audience, and makes it memorable anywhere in the world. Communication is the exchange of ideas and feelings, and an image is worth a thousand words.The philosopher Roland Barthes says “The image always has the last word”. All my posters have a common denominator, the ethical need to improve the quality of our life and of society by encouraging dialogue and reflection about the humanity. Armando Milani Milan, March 15, 2017


Client United Nation New York

Description Message of peace

Year 2003


Client Lele Luzzati Foundation Genoa

Description Translating peace in war

Year 2015


Client Lele Luzzati Foundation Genoa

Description The 4 B Where is Bin Laden?

Year 2010


Client Gam Publisher Chiari/Brescia

Description A tribute to the victims of New York September 2001

Year 2002


Client AISA Paris

Description Living together for Charlie Hebdo haine=hate / amour=love

Year 2015


Client Lele Luzzati Foundation Genoa

Description Work & Laws

Year 2017


Client The Sense of Art Milan

Description Africa: Amnesy International

Year 2008


Client The Sense of Art Milano

Description Africa: The forgotten continent

Year 2007


Client Policlinico Hospital Milan

Description Smoking is poison

Year 2004


Client United Nations Geneve

Description Water, ever less, ever polluted

Year 2005


Client New York City

Description Winner of the posters competition New York City Capital of the World

Year 1995


Client Warner Brothers New York

Description Photo exhibition in Fifth Avenue stores windows

Year 1979


Client Balan Foundation Aosta

Description Homage to the artist and designer Franco Balan

Year 2013


Client Vignelli Center Rochester University New York

Description Homage to the master designer Massimo Vignelli

Year 2014


Client Lele Luzzati Foundation Genoa

Description Sex and Power

Year 2012


Client Lele Luzzati Foundation Genoa

Description Sex and Love

Year 2012


100 Poster  

by Armando Milani

100 Poster  

by Armando Milani