Jan Tschichold’s much reprinted 1928 book Die Neue Typographie was one of the key texts of modern graphic design, the codifier of Russian Constructivist visual and typographic ideas wed to the new print technology. The book was also a practical manual for practicing designers of the period and has iconic status today as an almost religious text.

An exhibition “Jan Tschichold  and the New Typography: Graphic Design Between the World Wars” currently at Bard Graduate Center Gallery (18 West 86th St., New York, NY 10024, 212.501.3023; Tue, Fri–Sun 11 am–5 pm and Wed, Thu 11 am–8 pm from February 14 to July 7) is part of the collection of MoMA acquired material Tschichold collected from the pioneers of the movement, which he helped codify in books and articles.

Such European artist-designers as Kurt Schwitters, El Lissitzky, László Moholy-Nagy, Herbert Bayer, Piet Zwart, and Ladislav Sutnar, among others are represented, including El Lissitzky’s Pro dva kvadrata [The Story of Two Squares], 1920) while other items are modest and ephemeral, such as tourist brochures, handbills, headed notepaper, product catalogues, and magazine advertisements. This collection, purchased by Philip Johnson and donated to the Museum of Modern Art, forms the basis of this exhibition, tracing the development of the new ideas that revolutionized graphic design in the 1920s. The exhibition was curated by Bard College scholar Paul Stirton who also authored the enlightening and enjoyable eponymous book based on the exhibit.

Tomorrow: “Symposium — The New Typography: Graphic Design in Weimar Germany 1919-1933” is open to the public on March 22 from 1 – 5 pm at the Bard Lecture Hall. It will cover the broader history of design, technology, economics, and aesthetics played a decisive role in the formation of modernist graphic design.  Speakers will include: Christopher Burke, University of Reading; Steve Heller, School of Visual Arts; Sandy Jones, University of Brighton; Victoria and Albert Museum; Juliet Kinchin, The Museum of Modern Art; Dietrich Neumann, Brown University; Paul Stirton, Bard Graduate Center and Robert Wiesenberger, The Clark Art Institute. I will be speaking on the Americanization of the New Typography.

For additional events go here.

 

 

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