Jan Tschichold – Master Typographer - his life, work & legacy by Cees W.de Jong
Few have left a deeper impression on the work of typography than Jan Tschichold (1902-74), one of the most outstanding and influential designers of the 20th century. Not only was he a master in his field, but he wrote a number of highly influential
books and became instrumental in promoting the modernist design strategy called the New Typography.
This substantial volume covers Tschichold’s life and career, placing the designer's vision firmly in the rich cultural and historical context of his era. Tschichold embraced avant-garde ideas from movements such as the Bauhaus and De Stijl and made them accessible to working designers and printers, stressing clarity in communication, with form and function going hand in hand.
The contributing writers discuss the designers major influences and the highlights of his varied career, including his seminal poster designs, his groundbreaking work with Penguin Books, and his creation of the classic typeface Sabon.
Lavish illustrations - archive photographs, many published here for the first time, as well as copious examples of Tschichold s work - accompany the text, confirming that Tschichold’s heritage lives on in the digital age, and proving that he is amongst the
greatest typographic designers ever.
Introduction to the book by Cees W.de Jong.
Jan Tschichold believed that typographers should learn to embrace humanist ideals and use the wisdom and achievements of past typographers and the entire heritage of graphic design as sources.
In 1925 Tschichold published a special issue of Typographische Mitteilungen entitled elementare typograghie, in which he first formulated his efforts to create a new typography: "Out or all typefaces available, grotesque or block faces are the nearest to what the new typography needs, because they are simple in design and easy to read. But there is no reason why other easy-to-read typefaces should not he used. The perfect tvpeface does not yet exist." Bauhaus leader László Moholy-Nagy responded in Bauhausheft 7 in 1926: "Since all existing grotesque book styles lack basic style, grotesque still has to be created." At the same time, Paul Renner was working on his design for a new grotesque style based on constructivist principles. His 1924 design Futura was based on simple basic forms such as the circle, triangle, and square, but Renner's experience with books and typography prevented him from casting aside tradition in favour of a new dogma. The first samples of the new style made their appearance in 1925.
Ever since he first formulated his efforts to create a new typography in 1925, Tschichold has inspired typographers and designers around the world. He was trained in Leipzig and started his career there as a traditional calligrapher, designing advertisements mainly for the Leipzig trade fairs. Between 1927 and 1937, Tschichold travelled through Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland. France, the United Kingdom, and Denmark to present his publications, lectures, and exhibitions on the themes of the New Typography (Die neue Typographic) and type design. Tschichold belonged to the Ring neuer Werbegestalter (Ring of New Advertising Designers . which was initiated bv Kurt Schwitters in 1928. Its other members included Schwitters, Willi Baumeister. Max Burchartz. Walter Dexel, Hans Leistikow, Robert Michel, Georg Trump, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart. Cesar
Domela, Piet Zwart, and Paul Schuitema. Because of his international contacts. Tschichold was very well informed about what was happening in the world of typography, design, and art.
After the Nazi victory in the March 5 elections of 1933, both Tschichold and his wife Edith were arrested, having been labeled "cultural Bolsheviks: Shortly after his arrest, Tschichold was removed from his teaching post at the Meisterschule. and accused of advocating "un-German" typography. In 1959 Tschichold wrote: "In the light of my present knowledge, it was a juvenile opinion to consider the sans serif as the most suitable or even the most contemporary typeface. A typeface has first to be legible, nay, readable, and a sans serif is certainly not the most legible typeface when set in quantity, let alone readable. ...Good typography has to be perfectly legible and, as such, the result of intelligent planning. ...The classical typefaces such as Garamond, Janson, Baskerville and Bell are undoubtedly the most legible. In time, typographical matters, in my eyes, took on a very different aspect, and to my astonishment I detected most shocking parallels between the teachings of Die neue Typographie and National Socialism and fascism. Obvious similarities consist in the ruthless restriction of typefaces, a parallel to Goebbels's infamous Gleichschaltung (enforced political conformity) and the more or less militaristic arrangement of lines.
In 1967 Jan Tschichold released the complete type family Sabon, which he had produced in 1966-1967. The roman is based on a Garamond and the italic on a Granjon typeface. The name Sabon, taken from a type founder in Frankfurt who produced Garamond types, was proposed by Stanley Morison. With Sabon, Tschichold returned to the traditional and symmetrical typography that he had so vehemently rejected a decade earlier. And so in the end, the humanist ideals and the wisdom and achievements of past typographers and the entire heritage of graphic design became his own sources of inspiration.
1st edition, 2008, hardback, 352pp, full colour throughout with over 330 illustrations, 278 in colour, 24 x 32.5 cm