From Library Journal
Heller, the New York Times's senior art director, and Fili, an independent designer, have authored an attractive but hard-to-categorize guide to type. One finds brief (approximately 300-word) overview essays of seven time periods of typography: pre-modern, early modern, avant-garde modern, commercial modern, late modern, electric modern, and postmodern. Following these essays are shorter sidebar essays that discuss the various international influences within each time period (e.g., "Art Nouveau in Germany, France, The Netherlands, and Austria"). The essays are well written but require some knowledge of artistic and architectural trends. Hundreds of black-and-white and color illustrations from primary sources enrich the text, but, unfortunately, references to their sources are incomplete. The volume concludes with a bibliography of 55 books from the mid-1950s through the early 1990s. All in all, it is difficult to establish the audience for this book: The text is beyond the level of high school and lower-division undergraduates, but there is not enough scholarly apparatus to interest advanced scholars. Recommended for libraries that regularly receive requests for illustrations of historical typefaces or examples of display type.AP. Steven Thomas, Central Michigan Univ. Lib., Mt. Pleasant
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Readers familiar with Heller and Fili's numerous books for Chronicle, particularly in the Art Deco Series, may be worried that this latest book covers the same material. In fact, it is much larger in scope (as well as in size), covering commercial type designs, especially display type, form the last 100 years. As the authors state, Typology is not so much a formal history as a visual survey, and yet it is more than just a type timeline; each section has a brief essay that places the typefaces of that period within the contest of cultural, societal, economic and technological forces. Also, each period is subdivided by country; it is very useful in educating one's eye to be able to flip back-and-forth between, for example, Art Nouveau types in France and those in Germany (or The Netherlands or Austria). Typology certainly delivers its promise of visuals; there's an abundance of type specimens, broadsheets, catalogs and posters, most of which will be new to the reader, and all of which are beautifully reproduced and identified by year and designer. One would have to doggedly scour the used bookstalls of the world to accumulate this amount of material. Aren't we all lucky that we have Heller and Fili to do it for us?