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New Typography

New typography is defined as a rejection of classical rules of typography and symmetry. Lissitzky traced the roots of New Typography back to Marinetti’s futurist poetry, in an essay he wrote in 1927.

Lissitzky’s typography was the first forma; application to this new approach of type – sans serif letterforms, with a limited range of color, and geometric forms. Lissitzky is given credit as being the first to absorb the lessons of the modern art movements and successfully apply them to communications. Moholy-Nagy adapted Lissitzky’s basic ideas and applied them to the Bauhaus course.

Jan Tschichold, a German born typographer was the first to these new ideas about type into writing. Tschichold was trained as a calligrapher, and after finishing his schooling he went on to teach in Leipzig, Germany. In 1923 Tschichold went to the Bauhaus exhibition in Weimar, which dramatically changed his design approach.

In 1925, after analyzing a number of significant examples of this new modern work, Tschichold wrote a 24-page insert in the publication “Typographishe Mitteilungen,” entitled “Elementare Typographie.”

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Three years later in 1928 Tschichold wrote the book, “Die Neue Typographie” (“The New Typography”), in which he advocated the new ideas in type, which called for simplicity, and clarity in communicating a design’s message. This book was meant as a guideline for the German printing industry stating rules of the do’s and don’ts of the new type to change the established practices of the industry. Some of the rules included were; type should be asymmetrical in layout, type should be at its simplest form without embellishment, and rules should be used for emphasis. Tschichold’s book was criticized by some because they thought the book was trying to strictly put rules to this new type, but the book was highly praised by the majority.

This New Typography was achieved in Czechoslovakia in the late 20’s and early 30’s. One of the key characters was the designer Ladislav Sutnar who worked as a design director for a Prague publishing house. Sutnar mastered simplicity and visual clarity in his design. Another designer from Czechoslovakia, Karl Teige also mastered this new typography with influences from the Bauhuas and Lissitzky.

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Part of New Typography was in response to the new printing technologies that allowed designers to break free from the confines of the traditional type case.

Influences on New Typography come from many of the modern movements, but especially including DeStijl, Constructivism and the Bauhaus.

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