Searching materials on avantguard fonts

ivan's picture

Hello everyone!
I'm searching materials for the publication devoted to the avantguard fonts of the 1910-20s.
The subject is the influence of avantgaurde (expecially abstract) art on the acidental fonts.
I'm situated in russia, so I have a lot of materials on russian avantguard, and little on western.
Any books or sites, mabe you can recommend me.
Fenx, comrades!

Forrest L Norvell's picture

Probably the best single-volume reference to the typographical avantgarde is Herbert Spencer's "Pioneers of Modern Typography", which has a lot of material on the Futurists, El Lissitzky, Rodchenko, Kurt Schwitters and his "solid poetry", and the like.

If you don't have one of the permutations of Lewis Blackwell's "20th Century Type", that's a pretty good overview of modernism in the West, but as it's a survey that covers an entire century, its coverage is short.

I think most of the really interesting stuff back then happened in Central and Eastern Europe anyway. I don't know how easy it is to find contemporary histories in Russian on that stuff (although given how heavily the Soviets coopted Futurist style, it might not be that tough), but I think you're in a great place.

ivan's picture

Thank you very much!

timd's picture

While not about fonts Blast (reprinted by Black Sparrow press) was the journal of the Vorticists and features their typography.

Nick Shinn's picture

Jakob Erbar was, IMHO, one of the first type designers to express 20th century modernism, with his condensed sans (1922):

His Koloss (1923) is quite modern, with a little bit of art deco, but not as much as Morris Benton's Broadway (1925).

All these types preceded the definitive modernist type, Futura, which was released in 1928 (although first proofed as early as 1926), Bernhard Gothic (1929), Nobel (1929), and Kabel (1928).

There are other ways of defining avant garde, rather than following this "modernism" thread.

In the first two decades of the 20th Century, Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts were two art movements which were precursors of Modernism, and which produced radical typefaces which were avant garde in the sense of challenging the status quo. However, their advances weren't followed into the mainstream, as were those of modernism.

Nick Shinn's picture

>the influence of avantgaurde (expecially abstract) art on the acidental fonts

Not much: de Stijl artist Theo van Doesburg's "square" lettering (from c. 1912?) was not made into a typeface until the digital era. Square fonts were made in the 1930s (eg Agency Gothic), but there's no connection to Doesburg's work.

ivan's picture

Something like this.

ivan's picture

Thanx for the lincs andanswers. Maybe you know some links where Ican find some handdrawn fonts, mabe some modernist posters or bookcovers.

Forrest L Norvell's picture

wow, that's really beautiful!

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