- Paperback: 196 pages
- Publisher: Chronicle Books (June 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0811823083
- ISBN-13: 978-0811823081
- Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.6 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,237,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Typology: Type Design from the Victorian Era to the Digital Age
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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?
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Top customer reviews
If it were only a matter of taste, however, I'd be able to shrug it off. In fact, the authors display in the design of the text of this book their indifference -- or hostility -- to what most typographers regard as good type design for readability.
The Introduction, and the intros to each section, are set in what appears to be about 14/28 on a 7-inch measure -- far too long for comfortable reading, even with that much leading.
Worse, given such a generous measure, the text is still spaced abominably -- e.g., page 10, where a hyphen break leaves two letters from "typehouses" at the beginning of a line. Even the spacing in the narrow columns that accompany the illustrations in each section is atrocious; for people who are so concerned with the way type looks, they seem totally unconscious of the way that spacing affects color.
In many places, it's clear that the text was padded (with circumlocutions) to fit the space allotted to it on a page, and in others it appears that the spacing was adjusted to fill out the page. I won't even mention the typos...
Unfortunately for these authors, I had recently bought and read "The Complete Manual of Typography" by James Felici and "Thinking With Type" by Ellen Lupton, both of which are real books on typography that are eminently readable -- and practice what they preach. The Felici book, in particular, is a treasure.
Jan Tschichold, one of the leaders of Die Neue Typografie, ultimeately recanted and became one of the masters of classical typography. The authors of "Typology" should follow his example, and you should not buy this book if you're anything but a graphic designer who's looking for ways to use type that have nothing to do with actually reading it.
Because this is not a book to be read: it's a book to be looked at. If I'd had the opportunity to preview it in detail, I'd never have wasted the money; and the chances that I'll ever open it are slim to none, while the Felici book I mentioned earlier will be at my side whenever I set type.
The emphasis is rightly placed on early to mid-twentieth century design, but the book is fairly comprehensive, with enough of the Victorian Era and the Digital Age to justify its subtitle.
The book itself is a nicely-bound softcover with thick pages and good, clear reproduction.
This is a great book for any design student or professional to have in their library. Great content and the perfect reference book to have on hand. Highly recommended!