Section One

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A Tribute to the Music of Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Niklaus Troxler, 1986

Equal passions for jazz and graphic design motivated artist Niklaus Troxler’s innovative posters. Starting in the mid–1970s, he organized an annual music festival in his native Willisau, Switzerland, and his advertising images for those events established his reputation as a graphic artist. “His success is linked to his profound understanding of the work he wants to describe,” one admirer has observed.

In this poster for a tribute concert to jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, Troxler tried to visualize the composer’s favorite composition, “Round Midnight.” Originally trained as a typographer, Troxler ultimately outlined Monk’s recognizable, goateed profile with brightly colored lettering. Monk, who transformed jazz with discordant, bebop experimentation, was “after new chords, new ways of syncopating, new figurations, new runs.” Troxler’s unexpected compositions and dazzling color combinations pay tribute to Monk’s legacy of improvisation.