German Expressionist typeface ?

Celeste's picture

Hi everyone
Attached below is an image showing a page of the original catalogue from the 1910 “Die Brücke” exhibition at the Galerie Ernst Arnold in Dresden. The typeface is said (by this source http://www.moma.org/collection_ge/browse_results.php?object_id=138551) to have been designed specially for the project. Does anybody know a little bit more about this ?

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hrant's picture

Nice.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

It’s tempting to describe type design in terms of art movements.
However, that frequently puts the cart before the horse.
Consider that Doesburg’s iconic right-angled alphabet (not made into a font until the digital era) was not designed until 1919.
This seems to be an example of what would later be termed Purism, or perhaps De Stijl.
Certainly not Expressionist, although it works perfectly in this particular publication.
If anything, its reductive angularity might be informed by fin-de-siècle Arts and Crafts designers such as Rene Mackintosh and Kolo Moser.
However, as a type design it stands in a class of its own (with a hint of Fraktur in the capitals).
Sorry, I don’t know anything about it.

dan_reynolds's picture

I don’t think that the type was made specifically for this project. Years ago, I revived a very similar typeface called Teutonia, from a small foundry (Roos & Junge) in Offenbach. Here is the link to the foundry that sells the revival – http://volcano-type.de/fonts/categories/display/mountain

This style of letter is often associated with Russian constructivism, but it is older than that. I am not so sure that Roos & Junge were the originators of the style, either. It could be older. Here is the background info that I have … http://www.typeoff.de/2006/04/08/from-teutonia-to-mountain/

The type in your image is very, very close to Teutonia (the J is different …). But designs in this period often changed over time, or were added to (or were copied, well or not, buy other foundries).

Celeste's picture

Thanks, Dan — indeed I found it strange that such a small avant-garde group as Die Brücke could have decided the printer of the catalogue for their first important group exhibition to cut and cast a brand new typeface especially for them. How the MoMA curator came to that conclusion is beyond me.

dan_reynolds's picture

Maybe they had something new made … new letters, new size, who knows! The curator must have information at hand. Or perhaps they are writing about the lettering in the images?

eliason's picture

No, the museum site is referring to the type.
Die Brücke's first exhibition was four years earlier (in a Dresden lamp factory showroom!), and had annual shows at a Dresden art gallery between then and this exhibition, so it's not impossible that they had built up enough credibility to merit such an investment.

Celeste's picture

Yes, this was not their first exhibition, but it was definitely their first important one — also the first which saw the publication of a catalogue. And surely their modest following at the time could not really allow them to impose this kind of expenditure on their printer, could it ?

hrant's picture

Maybe merely changing the "J" turned into "hey, we had this font made special"... possibly via a bit of "creative interpretation" by the curator... Sensationalism = $.

hhp

dezcom's picture

Dan,
I remember your Mountain from a discussion we had several years ago. The date of origin, I could not say.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Hard to tell from the image, but it looks to me while this typeface is structurally very close to Mountain, it seems to have a fairly rounded beveled edge to it that Mountain does not have at all. There's a word for this slightly rounded off corner in type design, but I can't think of it, Nick Shinn mentions it in his Figgins Sans specimen.

my 2 cents..

Nick Shinn's picture

My father, something of a woodworker, would say “a little off the arris”, sandpaper in hand.
But that’s not a typographical term.

hrant's picture

Well, it deserves to be. I put forth that "arris" is the sharp point where two strokes cross, for example at around 11 o'clock and 5 o'clock on the inside contour of a chirographic letter oh. Go with it.

hhp

Celeste's picture

I just had a look at Matrix Verlag’s reprint of Julius Hoffmann's 1905 specimen (thank you again Dan for the tip) — Teutonia's F is much simpler in design than the one shown in the text (“Ferner waren…”). Uh ?

eliason's picture

This feels like a City Sans to me.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Arris is an architectural term that describes the sharp edge formed by the intersection of two surfaces, such as the corner of a masonry unit; the junction between two planes of plaster or any intersection of divergent architectural details.

from Wikipedia.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Well, I think, without question that there needs to be a lot more 'terminology' in the 'science of type design'. It's amazing how abstract and seemingly unrelated terminology one has to use to explain how Avant Garde is different from Futura, say. The scene from Hoefler Fere Jones offices in Helvetica was particularly telling, where they talk about how a font needs to be more saturn five rocket or etc.... Everything feels connotative, nothing feels declarative. We do need more exact and more standardized words.

eliason's picture

That scene isn't "telling" at all. For a documentary aimed at a broad audience, of course their descriptions will usefully draw on analogies and connotations. More precise technical language exists, it just wasn't appropriate to use it in that context.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I think they were attempting to communicate the very best they could when they said that. The whole scene was about the dearth of typographic language, and they were explaining how they talk to eachother, not the public at large. Also, I'd love to see some of this 'more precise technical language.'

Karl Stange's picture

Also, I'd love to see some of this 'more precise technical language.'

The I Love Typography site contains numerous articles on type terminology, history, design and culture including eXtreme Type Terminology, a series on type history starting with Humanist type and an overview of diacritics amongst many others...

Also Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style is an incredible introduction and overview.

Nick Shinn's picture

Arris is an architectural term…

That makes sense, my father was an architect.

Celeste's picture

You guys really shouldn’t complain about type anatomy terms in English — in French, it’s even worse (we don’t have a specific word for “spine”, for instance, which caused me tremendous difficulties when I translated Ellen Lupton’s Thinking With Type).

riccard0's picture

in French […] we don’t have a specific word for “spine”

In Italian we don’t have unambiguous terms for font or typeface, go figure.

hrant's picture

Some years ago I was on a business trip to Novosibirsk with Miles Newlyn and we had a conversation about shape terminology, and he convinced me that compared to even the high-profile world of automotive design, type design has been doing quite well, thank you very much.

hhp

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