Friday, November 07, 2008

The New Typography

I've spent a good chunk of the last couple of days dipping into this amazing index of early-twentieth century German and Swiss books and magazines. For instance, check out the Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, the house magazine for the association of German printers, complete with loose-leaf brochures and inserts. Or curator Felix Wiedler's fine commentary on Jan Tschichold's Die Neue Typographie:

this plain black cloth cover belongs to one of the most important typography books of the 20th century. after his manifesto "elementare typographie" (elemental typography) had been published as a special issue of the trade union's magazine "typographische mitteilungen" in 1925, jan tschichold (1902-1974) wrote this comprehensive book that adressed ideological and practical issues of the "new typography" movement.

tschichold designed the book in a very straightforward way: sans-serif type, black cloth cover with a silver-coloured spine title (often rubbed off, but still partly there on this copy). black endpapers seem to underline that this book is about "die schwarze kunst", the black art of printing. bold page numbers, fat lines, and footnotes marked by bullet points are typical for early "new typography" designs.

this book is much more ideologically charged than tschichold's later publications. his enthusiasm for sans-serif (and roman, to a certain degree) goes as far as to denounce all other typefaces and alphabets as "nationalism"– not only blackletter, but also "greek, cyrillic (=russian and bulgarian), turkish (=arabic), chinese (=japanese), indian and other exotic scripts (zulus, papuas, etc.)"! soon tschichold would revise this extremely euro-centric position and endorse a "good mix" of typefaces, and he actually turned into a great admirer of far eastern printing culture.
If you're at all into typography, book culture, or Weimar German-y, you should check it out. (p.s., that's Tschichold's hand writing "schrift" -- kleinschrift, natch -- over in my profile shot at left.)

via things magazine.

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