Fred Troller

1930 - 2002

Fred Troller was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer ,teacher and principle exponent of the “Swiss Design” movement of the 1950s and 60s. He was born in Zurich, Switzerland and graduated from the School of Applied Arts there in 1951. He worked as an independent designer and painter in both Zurich and Basel until 1961 when he was hired by the New York office of Geigy, a major Swiss chemical and pharmaceutical firm, to run their graphic design and advertising program. The art of advertising art experienced a revolutionary makeover in this period and Troller, at the helm of Geigy, was in the forefront of making the “Modern Swiss Style” the default look of mid-twentieth century advertising—think Mad Men. However, far beyond his skills as a graphic designer, Troller developed an important studio practice as a sculptor, painter and draftsman and he continued to work in both disciplines for the rest of his life. His world-view was forever altered when he moved to the United States and experienced the steel, smoke stacks and gritty hustle and bustle of the modern industrial city. He first gained notoriety in New York as a sculptor when he was included in the 1965 Whitney Museum exhibition: Young America 1965. This was followed by several successful sculpture exhibitions at the fabled Grace Borgenicht Gallery. In the 1970s Troller returned to painting with a series of highly complex, geometric, color-dominate canvases and works on paper. These efforts combined elements of Pop and Op Art with Swiss sophistication. Troller and his wife Beatrice traveled the world—Mexico, Haiti, Spain, England, France, Yugoslavia, Italy— and he always returned home with inspiration for new work. Troller was also in demand as a teacher and he enjoyed time working at schools such as Rhode Island School of Design, Cooper Union, School of Visual Arts and Alfred University where he was Chairman of the Division of Design from 1988-2000. Troller died at his home in Rye, New York in 2002 and the New York Times noted in his obituary that over his career he, “successfully combined Swiss rigorousness with American vitality.”