If you asking yourself – “What is the state of contemporary calligraphy today?” This book could be the answer to your quest.
How will the need to rediscover the essential gestures which lie at the heart of our culture be reconciled with the new calligraphic forms which are emerging in the age CD Roms and multimedia? Claude Mediavillia's impressive survey describes the development of the Latin alphabet from the origins of writing the emergence of abstract art. Each period is dealt with in its historical context and is illustrated with examples taken from the principle paleographic sources, interpretations of historical styles by contemporary artists and model alphabets which the reader can use to develop a practical knowledge of each style.
In a wide-ranging analysis which takes us from the morphology of letterforms and their applications to the nature of form and composition, the author shows how calligraphy has moved increasingly into the domain of the evolution of signs as the gestural aspects of writing have gradually come to dominate over the literal meaning of the words. By stripping letters of the phonetic value writers, graphic designers and other visual artists are reinventing an ideographic language to which Claude Mediavilla’s book provides some of the keys.
The reader is encouraged to copy each of the twenty-two model alphabets in order to develop a deeper understanding of the spirit of each style, from Roman capitals, through uncial, Carolingian and gothic hands, chancery script, ronde, bârtard and English round hand which so strongly marked the industrial era, to the late nineteenth-century crisis in calligraphy and its contemporary revival. He describes and explains the various writing surfaces, inks, pens and brushes available to calligraphers.
The history of writing, with its profusion of styles, resonances, sudden mutations and subtle variations is inseparable from the spiritual, political, social and technical history of Western societies, The written word incarnated the Jaw, gave force to the decisions of authority and safeguarded sacred and profane traditions in barbaric times so that freedom and invention might once again come to the fore. It is easy to see that the choice of an alphabet is never neutral or innocent!
Claude Mediavilla explains his choice of sources and archetypal letterforms in a breathtaking selection of illustrations combining the sumptuousness of an exceptionally fine art book and the rigor of a major reference work. The appendices provide a succinct summary of the successive stages in the evolution of Latin letterforms over the centuries as well as an extensive bibliography of all aspects of writing – from figures and punctuation through letterforms themselves to illumination and calligraphy.
This is an amazing book. If there was ever a book that you will look at and think to yourself 'with this book, I will never need another to understand the History of Calligraphy' then this is it. That and the quality of the work it contains makes this book stand out from all others. The Table of Contents, by the way, is cheekily hidden away at the back of the book!
1st English edition, 1996, hardback, 334pp, full colour throughout, highly recommended, 27 x 34 cm