Posted in Event, Publication, Visual Language
Wolfgang Weingart | Weingart Typography | Museum of Design Zurich — My Way to Typography | Lars Müller Publishers
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich Exhibition: 7 May to 28 September 2014
Curators: Barbara Junod, curator Graphics Collection, Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Scenography: Mathis Füssler
Wolfgang Weingart revolutionised modern Swiss typography and in doing so wrote international design history. The Museum für Gestaltung presents the first comprehensive exhibitionin Switzerland of this designer’s work and teaching.
Wolfgang Weingart is regarded as the “enfant terrible” of modern Swiss typography. As early asthe mid-1960s he began to break the established rules. He liberated letters from the corset of theright angle, spaced, underlined or reshaped them and reorganised typesetting. In the 1970s he began to translate halftone films into collages, in this way anticipating the digital sampling of the post-modern “New Wave”. As a typography teacher at Schule für Gestaltung Basel Weingartshaped several generations of designers from 1968 onwards. They came from throughout the world and helped him achieve international reputation. Today both Weingart’s experimental design approachand his call for the combination of analogous and digital techniques are once again highly topical. His life work is being shown for the first time in Switzerland and juxtaposed with works by his students. All the exhibits come from the Museum’s own collections, as the designer donated a major part of his archive to the Museum. In the meantime this material has been electronically recorded and systematically analyzed as part of a research project supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.
An overview of the exhibition
Twelve thematic “islands” with original material, a number of slide and film projections, and information graphics introduce Wolfgang Weingart’s work and teaching to visitors. These thematic islands focus on formal, technical and content-related aspects. This allows visitors to trace the development of themes that reoccur over a period of several years, for instance his experimental “Round Compositions”, “Line Pictures” and “The Letter M”. And certain design processes can be looked at in detail, such as the use of collage and the combination of different techniques, which were characteristic of the work of Weingart and his students. The aim of the exhibition, which was developed in collaboration with Wolfgang Weingart, is not to show only results, but also to illustrate the work processes themselves. In addition to original material the exhibition presents a film portrait of Weingart and filmed discussions about his teaching activity in Basel.
A spatial presentation of Weingart’s work
On entering the exhibition you are immediately immersed in Weingart’s world of poetic comparisons. Pictures of the desert, which Weingart made during his travels in the Middle East, find counterparts in his “Round Compositions” and “Line Pictures”. Weingart’s expressive text interpretations of the late 1960s and early 1970s form the exhibition’s programmatic core. Under the title “Typography in a New Context” Weingart here deliberately distanced himself from the functional typography of the “Swiss Style”. By the mid-1970s Weingart had exhausted the possibilities of manual typesetting and the letterpress. From this time onwards he mounted halftone films to form collages and then had these printed in offset. He later tried out the possibilities offered by the Xerox photocopier and, to some extent, the Apple Macintosh, which was introduced in 1984.
Weingart’s teaching activity in time lapse
Examples from Weingart’s 30 years of teaching in the Advanced Class for Graphics in Basel are gathered in their own section of the exhibition. Five thematic areas present basic exercises such as how to design a book cover with the help of typographical elements and how to alter the expressiveness of the text by combining these elements in different ways, as well as studies on the legibility of typefaces. The entire graphic range of individual projects is also shown. The process through which the works are made is allotted just as much importance as the results of this process: calendars, individual books and book series, magazine covers, writing paper, corporatedesigns, and posters.
Wolfgang Weingart, who was born in 1941 in Salemertal in southern Germany, attended the Merz Akademie in Stuttgart from 1958 to 1960, where he familiarised himself with typesetting and the process of making linocuts and woodcuts. After this he trained as a typesetter and discovered Swiss typography. From 1964 he continued his studies at the Kunstgewerbeschule Basel under Emil Ruder and Armin Hofmann. From 1968 to 1999 he taught typography in the Advanced Class for Graphics there and, until 2004, at HGK Basel. Weingart also held summer courses in Brissago (Yale Summer Program in Graphic Design) and from 1972 onwards gave lectures throughout the world, frequently in the USA where most of his students came from. Weingart was a member of the AGI from 1978 to 1999 and in 2000 he published a comprehensive autobiography, which is to be reissued by Lars Müller Publishers. Weingart has received several awards for his lifework: in 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in fine arts by Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston, in 2013 the AIGA Medal.
Wolfgang Weingart, My Way to Typography / Wege zur Typografie
Lars Müller Publishers, CHF 50
Can be ordered from the start of the exhibition at: www.museum-gestaltung.ch/eshop
Further information on the museum and the educational program can be found at: www.museum-gestaltung.ch
Tuesday–Sunday 10 am–5 pm, Wednesday 10 am–8 pm
— Special Thanks to Leona Veronesi | Museum für Gestaltung Zürich and Sabrina Peterer | Lars Müller Publishers for all the information and images