Weingart

Typography is not only for reading and must not be a pain. Typography can be a game and a lot of fun.

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A drawing inspired by: Schematische Darstellung des M-Buchstabenwürfel-Experiments in: Schonwiedertypografie 1970, Sonderdruck der Typografischen Monatsblätter, Rückseite, Buchdruck
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A drawing inspired by: Es war einmal und ist nicht mehr | 1989

At the beginning of September I went to see Weingart Typografie at the Museum of Design in Zurich. I spent a couple of hours there looking at his work and the work made by his students. And, while I was sketching and taking notes, all of a sudden, Weingart entered the exhibition room and I said hello and he looked at me and asked me if he had taught me…

On my way out I bought a copy of 30 Years of Swiss Typographic Discourse  in the Typogrfische Monatsblätter: TM RSI SGM 1960-90 published by Lars Müller Publishers. Typogrfische Monatsblätter was a typographic journal that became a discussion platform for professionals in the field of typesetting and printing.

In “Typografie ist eine Kunst für sich” from 1973, Tschichold called typographical game playing a hybrid decadence, stressing that a good typographer, unlike the self-aggrandising graphic designer, never actually feels free, he does not play, but rather follows the considerations of his reason.

30 Years of Swiss Typographic Discourse  in the Typogrfische Monatsblätter, p.134

weingart_Zurich_4

 Is this typography worth supporting, or do we live on the moon? Typography is not dead, yet! But its effect is undoubtedly anaemic and vague. But, by and large, it is intact, it is definitely less than ever a practical skill. Instead, it endures as an intrinsic necessity. Typography lives! It is not regarded with the primacy of perhaps 10 or 20 years ago, and is comprehended less as a “picture”, but rather, more as a “text”. Nevertheless, it remains a prominent element of “visual communication”: indispensable, and occasionally fresh, even original.

Peter Kornatzki, 30 Years of Swiss Typographic Discourse in the Typogrfische Monatsblätterp. 157

As for the exhibition, it is a thoughtfully organised space that shows Wingart’s practice as a constant search for solutions. It shows clearly his regard for process-oriented work.

I was not interested in a single result, but in the research. I was interested in process-oriented teaching…

Wolfgang Weingart in an interview for Typographische Monatsblätter (TM)  

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At the Basel School of Design they try to bring out in people a kind of intuitive approach to making things visual, whether it’s typography, or drawing, or whatever, and help them find ways of analysing what they’re doing while they’re doing it.

Hamish Muir, 30 Years of Swiss Typographic Discourse in the Typogrfische Monatsblätter, p. 169 (originally published in Heritage, Emigre, no.14, 1990)

…but one of the important things I learned from him was how to work; a healthy process. It was more of a process of discovery and exploration than of trying to make something that looks like the teacher’s or anybody else’s work. When he gave an assignment, he would encourage us to work on 20 different iterations all at the same time. I found that method very useful. …They may all be good solutions, but maybe only one is really appropriate. I think that is the strongest thing I learned from Weingart: a playful, beginner’s-kind-of Weingart mind.

April Greiman for Typographische Monatsblätter (TM)  

In my search for information about Herr Weingart I found out that he liked listening to Bruno Walter’s rehearsing Mozart’s Linz Symphony.

While working on the week ends in the typeschop at the school, Weingart often wheeled out a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and played the music of German composers–Wagner, Bethoven, Mozart–would accompany his labour. One of his favourites was a recording of a legendary orchestra conductor Bruno Walter rehearsing Mozart’s Linz Symphony in which Walter implores his musicians to share his grasp of a particular passage as a “shimmering”. The same could describe Weingart’s body of work. His typographic vision embodies a similar vitality and richness. It shimmers.

Wolfgang Weingart, Biography by Philip Burton


typography as illustrated music


graphic landscape


repetition, densification, scattering, progression, tension


Wolfgang Weingart’s My Way to Typography is a publication that accompanies the exhibition. It is an interesting read for anyone involved with art, design or typography.  Keith Tam and Stuart Bailey, among others, wrote about the book and it is striking how contrary their opinions were on Weingart’s practice, the design and the content of his book. Either you love it or hate it, I guess.

“Atmosphere Rooms” for Philippe Apeloig, Paris

The Typorama finished a couple of weeks ago and I am still thinking about the walls of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris filled with Apeloig’s fonts, Metro-size posters and the music used for his animations composed by Barbatuques, Iannis Xanakis, Maurice Ravel and Laurent Rochelle, among others. Typorama, the exhibition and the catalogue, presents the panorama of Philippe Apeloig’s work which is conceptual, functional and artfully crafted.

For me, the most important thing in the exhibition were Apeloig’s sources of inspiration, his Jewish roots, the fact that his grandparents came from Kazimierz Dolny in Poland, his fascination with movies like, 8 ½, Orfeo Negro and Battleship Potemkin.

The way Philippe Apeloig presented 30 years of his work made me think of Alexander Dorner’s “Atmosphere Rooms”.

Across the Atlantic, the German curator Alexander Dorner was experimenting with a different approach to explaining the relationship between art, design and architecture as director of the Landesmuseum in Hanover. Since the mid 1920s he had used pieces from its archive to depict the cultural history of particular eras by creating what he called “Atmosphere Rooms”. The grand finale was the Raum der Gegenwart, or Room of Today, for which Dorner commissioned Moholy-Nagy to create an immersive sequences of images depicting glimpses of contemporary art, architecture, design, theater and sport with screening of experimental Soviet films including Sergei Eisenstein’s “Battleship Potemkin” and Dziga Vertov’s “Man with a Movie Camera”.  

Alice Rawsthorn, Hello World

In this post I gathered some quotes and images which are glimpses of culture, design and art that I wanted to dedicate to Monsieur Apeloig.

I begin with a small town in Poland, Kazimierz Dolny. Then I move on to Malevich’s Black Square, Dutch Design, Wolfgang Weingart’s Line Pictures for Armin Hofmann, Phillippe Petit’s tightrope walking at the World Trade Center in 1974, and, finally, Pina Bausch’s Nelken from 1982.

Acoustic Walk

Kazimierz Dolny in Poland used to be a place of two cultures and two religions, Catholic and Jewish. They existed next to each other till the Soviet and German occupation almost wiped the Jewish out of the town, out of the whole country. But, there are people, young people who want to remember that Jewish culture influenced Polish culture and that it is an important part of our heritage.

Jaśmina Wójcik is a Polish multimedia artist. In 2011 she created the acoustic walk around Kazimierz Dolny. It was a project with audio guides in which she used stories about Jewish that don’t live in Kazimierz any more, but are still present in the memory of its inhabitants.

…the acoustic walk around Kazimierz Dolny consists of prints of Jaśmina Wójcik’s drawings hung on the facades of houses. The drawings are the central part of the project, and create the points on the walk’s map. The path is created by places – existing or not – where Jews used to live (e.g. the cheder, the mikveh, the Tzadik house, the synagogue, the kosher slaughterhouse). Each participant gets an MP3 player, a map and an instruction. The MP3 player becomes a personal guide.This is a personal and alternative way of touring around the town–through something that does not exist anymore, or what remained in a very small scale. Yet it constitutes a very important part of the town’s history and heritage. The project aims at creating a universal message relating also to contemporary events. In their headphones the participants hear real memories of the pre-war life in Kazimierz Dolny (archived by Bożena Gałuszewska and the Brama Grodzka Center – NN Theatre in Lublin). The town used to be bicultural – Poles and Jews where neighbours here. After WWII the Jewish community vanished completely. The project is an expression of memory about them. Of respect. Of preserving their presence… of their metaphysical return…

http://www.akustycznyspacer.pl

Black Square

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A section of Suprematist works by Kazimir Malevich exhibited for the first time at the 0.10 exhibition (via Wikipedia)

The Last Futurist Exhibition 0.10 in 1915 … the placement of the suprematist paintings suggested the way icons were hung; … Black Square, which was, with total explicitness presented as an icon, or rather, in the position of an icon.

Igor Zabel on The Last Futurist Exhibition 0.10 in 1915

Dutch Design

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Theo van Doesburg, alphabet design, 1919

Van Doesburg’s upper-case alphabet was constructed from vertical and horizontal slabs of the same thickness and could be stretched vertically and horizontally to force texts to fit any format. Neither aesthetic nor legibility were major considerations, and the assumption that conveying information is a primary objective of typography as of marginal concern. Perhaps Moholy-Nagy was referring to Van Doesburg when he wrote that ‘clarity is the first prerequisite of all typography. For the sake of legibility the message must never suffer from a priori aesthetics. The letter types must never be forced into a pre-planned form, for instance into a square’. Yet, as demonstrated by the cover for the published 1920 Antwerp lecture Klassiek Barok Modern, Van Doesburg could use his alphabet quite effectively.

Dutch Graphic Design: A Century of Innovation by Alston W. Purvis andCees W. De Jong

Wolfgang Weingart

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The Line Pictures for Hofmann by Wolfgang Weingart

Not able to sit still during Hofmann’s class for an entire day, and to avoid having to draw lines with a ruling pen, I found refuge in the typeshop. There I was in my element. In a thin, square slab of wood I drilled one hundred holes, a grid of ten by ten, into which I then screwed one hundred L-hooks. With this construction it was easy to turn and twist the hooks into any desired direction or pattern. The technical problem of designing the Line Pictures for Hofmann was solved. By securing my construction in the bad of the letterpress I could print many variations by adjusting the height of selected hooks to the exact height of standard metal type. The hooks of the grid not intended to print were screwed deeper into the wood, too low to be inked by the rollers.

Weingart: Typography

Tightrope Walking at the World Trade Center, New York, 1974

Petit was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespass and received a quick sentence doing a free show for children in Central Park.

Chris Kelly, CBS, New York

 

 

Nelken, Pina Bausch, 1982

Nelken-Lutz_Foerster-c_Maarten_Vanden_Abeele

What inspires me is the fact that I learn how to stop to look at things at one point. You need to learn how to seek, not to look and then you’ll refresh your eye, then you can meditate more about what you can do. That’s the way to find the best inspiration. … It has to be playful.

 

Philippe Apeloig

 

 

Commonplaces Summer Programme Basel

Coat of arms of the canton of Basel-Stadt
Coat of arms of the canton of Basel-Stadt

A week ago Tony Pritchard, my course leader from the LCC, asked me to write about my experience in Basel. So I looked through my archive and I gathered the information about the course, as well as some photographs and quotes which help elucidate the philosophy behind the Basel School of Design and their Summer Programme.

Between 1968 and 1999, the ‘Basel School of Design’ had conducted an Advanced Class of Graphic Design which was attended by students from all over the world. When the school was transformed into University Level, this Advanced Class was unfortunately closed.

From the Basics in Design and Typography Programme, Basel 2008

When the Schule für Gestaltung Basel (Basel School of Design) first announced its First Summer Program ‘Basics in Design and Typography’, three weeks of workshops for graphic designers, students and educators, it emphasised the fact that the course would be conducted by Wolfgang Weingart and would ‘re-open a dialogue’ with the legendary Advanced Class of Graphic Design, closed since 1999 …

The course was delivered in a series of huge, clean white rooms, previously used as exhibition spaces within the Gewerbemuseum (trade museum) building. On the floor above was the Basel School of Design library; on the floor below was the Swiss Poster Collection. Each student was given their own enormous working space for the course. At the start of each class, all the equipment and materials were to be found ready and waiting in a neat pile on each desk. However, by far the most noticeable feature of the studio was the complete absence of computers . . .

Back to basics in Basel by Rupert Bassett

http://www.eyemagazine.com/feature/article/back-to-basics-in-basel-extract

The course was delivered in a series of huge, clean white rooms, previously used as exhibition spaces within the Gewerbemuseum (trade museum) building. Summer Programme 2008.
The course was delivered in a series of huge, clean white rooms, previously used as exhibition spaces within the Gewerbemuseum (trade museum) building. The Summer Programme 2008.

Drawing and Designing with Peter Olpe

In this workshop we had to draw pieces of track ballast from the Swiss Railway.

The piece of ballast, from the workshop, I still have on my desk.
The piece of stone from the workshop. I still have it on my desk.

What we do not see we cannot tell. What we see incorrectly we will report incorrectly.  

Josef Albers: To Open Eyes by Frederick A. Horowitz and Brenda Danilowitz

From the workshop with Peter Olpe
Drawings from the workshop.

Only with a rich vocabulary of a solid graphic training is it possible to move freely among all one has learned. It is significant that often the most elementary experiences – which are commonly undervalued – are exactly those that can be the most lasting.

A Drawer’s Thoughts on Drawing: Drawing Makes Things Visible by Dorothea Hofmann

From Leonardo comes this observation: The line has an intellectual nature because, although it does not exist in reality, it can be understood to clarify objects. …the drawing cannot be a reproduction of nature, but that is possesses rather its own special reality.

Drawing as Design Process by Peter Olpe

My work from the workshop
My work from the workshop: “Relationships”.

Tonal work is risk-free; line is perilous voyage. Line drawing had a nakedness that forced students to think in advance of the line they drew.

Josef Albers: To Open Eyes by Frederick A. Horowitz and Brenda Danilowitz
My work from the workshop
My work from the workshop: “Final Piece”.

Colour and Designing with Dorothea Flury

For the workshop we just needed paper and tempera.

From the workshop.
Group’s work.

In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is–as it physically is. This fact makes color the most relative medium in art. In order to use color effectively it is necessary to recognize that color deceives us continually. To this end, the beginning is not a study of color systems.

Interaction of Color by Josef Albers

My work from the workshop. Colour relationships.
My work from the workshop: “Colour Relationships”.

Basics in Typography with Wolfgang Weingart

Designing book covers using paper and scissors.

After completing one of the task. Group discussion.
After completing one of the tasks. The little round box with a six-point, semi bold Berthold Akzidenz-Grotesk was always on Weingart’s desk.

Good typography is not loud. A responsibly applied and readable type style is the first ingredient of good composition. Today, asymmetric composition is certainly feasible, however, typography is intrinsically symmetrical. A text block without indents is unclear. Indents help the reader by the logical order of the text. The best typography is invisible to the reader and serves to transmit the thoughts and intent of the author. Beautiful text, a text well composed, is legible. One of the highest virtues of good typography is its subtle elegance. It is not the duty of the typographer to consciously display or emulate the style of the current trends, nor to reflect the spirit of the times. Typography must be itself. It must be pleasing to the eye and not tiring. Good typography has absolutely nothing to do with remarkable or exotic type styles. This is the opinion of amateurs. The essence of letter-form is not modernity, but readability. (from Jan Tschichold’s document sent to Wolfgang Weingart)

It seemed as if everything that made me curious was forbidden: to question established typographic practice, change the rules, and to reevaluate its potential. I was motivated to provoke this stodgy profession and to stretch the typeshop’s capabilities to the breaking point, and finally, to prove once again that typography is an art.

My Way to Typography by Wolfgang Weingart

My drawing from the workshop.
One of the drawings I made during the workshop.

Space and Form (3D) with Stephan Primus

During the workshop we only used paper and a cutting knife.

Examples of work from previous courses.
Examples of work from previous courses.

Don’t even worry about being without a studio or being away  from your tools; you can always get out the paper. (from Josef Albers’s Report on a Course)

Josef Albers: To Open Eyes by Frederick A. Horowitz and Brenda Danilowitz

The following photographs present my work from the workshop.

Different forms.
Different forms.
Libraries of forms.
Libraries of forms.
Progression 1
Progression 1.
Progression 2
Progression 2.
Complexity
Complexity.

Things I liked most:

  • the struggle while I was drawing the ballast stones
  • Peter Olpe’s amazing pinhole cameras, which he builds himself
  • the school’s poster collection, shown by Dorothea Flury
  • Dorothea’s comment that students came to the Basel School of Design for Armin Hofmann, but wanted to stay for Kurt Hauert.
  • the visit to the Novartis Campus (a treasure trove of design) guided by Kaspar Schmid and Lize Mifflin (Mifflin-Schmid Design)
  • Beat Keusch who, according to Weingart, is the most sensible Swiss designer http://www.beatkeusch.ch/
  • Paper Museum and it’s exhibition: 50th Aniversary of Helvetica
  • Shaulager, a place to check out http://www.schaulager.org/smq/
  • Letterform in Public Space, a guided tour through the city of Basel with Lisa Pomeroy
  • Vitra, the collection of chairs and the Conference Pavilion designed by Tadao Ando http://www.vitra.com/en-us/corporation/designer/details/103924

 

*The black and white photographs (Drawing and Designing, Space and Form) come from the book we received after the course. They were made by two assistants in the Summer Programme,  Mo and Anne.

Here are some photographs of the book.

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Yasunori Morinaga's work.
Yasunori Morinaga’s work.
Yasunori Morinaga's work.
Yasunori Morinaga’s work.
Yasunori Morinaga's work.
Yasunori Morinaga’s work.