W. A. Dwiggins, Hermann Püterschein, and the Fictional Society of Calligraphers

W. A. Dwiggins, Hermann Püterschein, and the Fictional Society of Calligraphers
with Bruce Kennett

Lecture at TypeCon
Fri, Aug 25, 2017
8:50am–9:20am PT

After focusing on the typeface designs of William Addison Dwiggins in two recent, popular lectures, Bruce Kennett will turn his attention to Dwiggins's lettering and calligraphy at TypeCon2017 in Boston.

As a youth Dwiggins was already in love with letters. In art school he studied lettering and ornament with Fred Goudy. Once launched on his freelance career in Boston, he made lettering and calligraphy daily for advertising agencies and publishers — headlines for ads and brochures, backstrips and title pages for books — and published private projects. Over the decades his skills deepened ever more. This presentation features 50 years of WAD’s work, from roman, uncial, blackletter and his swooping italic hand, to the jackets and book spines that he hand-lettered for Knopf.

Dwiggins’s fictional Society of Calligraphers provided opportunities for him to publish and promote his ideas about design, illustration, and paper in the 1910s and 1920s. WAD served as secretary; his alter-ego Hermann Püterschein was president. The Society produced hilarious works of satire, serious essays on typography and design, stencil prints of great beauty, and copious expressions of identity: membership certificates, pressmarks, envelopes, letterheads, and mailing labels. Dwiggins’s myriad creations for the Society will be on display in all their color and variety.

Letterform Archive will also present a pop-up exhibition at TypeCon featuring unique and rare objects from Kennett’s presentation and other Dwiggins work of local and typographic interest. We’ll share more details about this exhibit soon.

About Bruce Kennett
Bruce Kennett
Photo by Sylvia Davatz

Book designer, photographer, and teacher Bruce Kennett lives in rural New England. After earning a B.A. in humanities and working as an architect and printer, he moved to Austria to study calligraphy and book design with Friedrich Neugebauer, and later translated Neugebauer’s The Mystic Art of Written Forms. During the 1980s, he was the managing director of Maine’s renowned Anthoensen Press, and since then has maintained his own studio working with clients such as the Folger Shakespeare Library, Boston College Law School, the Grolier Club, L.L. Bean, and the Mount Washington Observatory. In the peaceful surroundings of his country studio, Bruce designs illustrated books and exhibition graphics, and makes large-scale murals of his photographs.

Bruce has collected the work of W. A. Dwiggins since 1972, and has been writing and lecturing about him since 1980. His comprehensive biography, W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design, captures the inspiring accomplishments and wit of this amazing artist.

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