A brief history:
In the 1940s, commercial artists, mural makers, typographers, printmakers, art directors, illustrators and poster designers increasingly realised their common bonds, and the modern profession of graphic design began to be defined. In 1951, five graphic artists - two Swiss and three French - decided to formalise their relationship into some sort of association. Their idea was simply to share common interests and friendships across national and cultural borders.
It was a notion that soon attracted leading exponents of the graphic arts from elsewhere in Europe and in the USA. In 1952 the Alliance Graphique Internationale was incorporated in Paris with 65 members from 10 countries. The first AGI exhibition was held in Paris in 1955 and in 1969 the headquarters moved from Paris to Zurich. Student seminars were introduced in 1979 and the first Young Professional AGI Congress was held in London in 1994.
An explosion of global communications is changing the world. Powered by media like television and the internet, a common visual language is forming as symbols and images become the world's universal vernacular. The original members of the AGI were responsible for creating many elements of this new language. As the world turns, their successors - exponents of the traditional and the new media - are becoming members of the AGI themselves. Today there are around 370 from Africa, America, Australia, Asia, the Middle East and Europe - 32 countries in all.
Membership of the AGI requires reputation and achievement of the highest order and commitment to the processes of visual learning and perception, unfettered by cultural differences. The AGI remains dedicated to the universal aspect of graphic design as a means of communication and information, and its ideals remain relevant to the new world of visual literacy which its members have helped to bring about.
Saul Bass at the 1981 AGI Congress in Prague: