Born in Switzerland, Troller graduated from the Zurich School of Design in 1950. There as well as in nearby Basel, he worked as an independent designer and painter. In 1960, Troller was hired to head the graphic design and advertising team at the Geigy Chemical Corporation (now Novartis), a prominent Swiss pharmaceutical firm headquartered in New York City. It was during this decade—contemporaneous with his rise to prominence in the art market—that Troller helped popularize the “Swiss International Style,” a Bauhaus-inspired aesthetic relying on bold typeface and stark composition that revolutionized the look of mid-20th century print advertising.
He left Geigy in 1968 to establish Troller Associates, a proprietary studio in Rye, New York, and went on to serve corporate clients including Exxon, General Electric, I.B.M., and American Airlines. In the 1970s, Troller returned to painting with a series of highly complex, geometric, color-dominated canvases and works on paper that combined elements of Pop and Op art with Swiss sophistication. He later became a design educator, lecturing and teaching at Cooper Union, the School of Visual Arts, and Rhode Island School of Design in addition to serving as the chairman of the Graphic Design Division at Alfred University in New York from 1988 to 2000. He died in 2002 at the age of 71; in his obituary, the New York Times lauded him as a “Champion of Bold Graphic Style.”
Some information courtesy of Tom McCormick.
A synthesis of hewn wood and masterfully stretched canvas, Untitled is a playful demonstration of Troller’s technical mastery of the three-dimensional form. Its material, textural, and linear juxtapositions meet to suggest a kind of compound elegance that marries the artist’s education in Swiss design to his interest in primitive African aesthetics. Evident here is Troller’s talent for reference: vertical wood grain elongates to suggest the form of a human spine, while stretched canvas rises and settles to mimic a set of jagged teeth. Heavily influenced by Dada and the European avant-garde of the 1960’s, his style is evocative of the same geometric mannerism favored by contemporaries like Brancusi and Fontana. Many of Troller’s sculptures from this period focus on shape, color, and movement—often properties inherent to his materials themselves. As a sculptor, Troller first gained notoriety in New York City, where he was included in an exhibition titled Young America 1965 at the Whitney Museum, and shortly thereafter exhibited at the fabled Grace Borgenicht Gallery. Troller rose to fame as the pioneer of a vivid, unfettered style that the designer Massimo Vignelli said “combined Swiss rigorousness with American vitality.”
Estate of the Artist