Our local and global audience is growing steadily, but Letterform Archive is still a fairly young organization, and this year offered many opportunities to introduce ourselves to new audiences beyond the Bay Area. The last few months were particularly eventful, with a whirlwind of collections projects, hosting visits, planning exhibitions, and sending our team off to represent the Archive and show our collection at conferences all around the world. I had the pleasure of working with our curator, Rob Saunders, on a pop-up exhibit for the 2017 AIGA Conference in Minneapolis.
Our collection offers the opportunity to tell a thorough history of type. Last month we took that story on the road.
The wait is over. Letterform Archive welcomes you to our new home to experience the inaugural exhibition of our first-ever gallery.
We’re thrilled to announce the opening of our first gallery with an exhibition of more than 150 pieces from our permanent collection.
The school’s main typographic story is not about inventing radical typefaces, but using existing typefaces in a radical way.
Letterform Archive’s inaugural exhibition, Bauhaus Typography at 100, displays nearly 200 objects representing the school’s influence on printed design. From its start in 1919, the Bauhaus incorporated mass production techniques in the creation of artworks across various programs offered on campus, from architecture and product design to textiles and graphics. While the school has come to be known for a simplified, geometric approach across all these disciplines, the exhibition narrates an evolution of letterform styles and illuminates the many people who developed what we now recognize as Bauhaus typography. As a companion to December’s Archive Salon, this two-part article series focuses on the core material that shaped Bauhaus typography: the typefaces.
From Futura to ITC Bauhaus, our survey of Bauhaus type continues with a look at typefaces that adopted the school’s simplified, geometric ideals.
Our first installment of this two-part series showcased the various typefaces found in official publications and other objects by Bauhaus instructors and students. We learned that the type used at the school was primarily utilitarian, readily available to printers at the time. But what about the radical geometric letterforms we connect to Bauhaus principles? Let’s look at minimalist typefaces inspired by the school, many of which live on as commercial successes long after the institution was forced to close down.
Vanessa Zúñiga Tinizaray refocuses geometric and systematic design principles on a culture far from 20th-century Europe.
Letterform Archive’s current exhibition celebrates, among many things, the centenary of the Bauhaus. Such recognition indicates the significant impact of the school in modern culture. The Bauhaus has become synonymous with minimal and geometric systems of design. This makes it convenient to attribute this school of thought as a source for any graphic work that shares these characteristics, but similar ideas have been around long before the Bauhaus. The Ecuador, the Land of the Shuar poster that is part of the “Beyond the Bauhaus” section of the show is an example of contemporary designers practicing some of the principles associated with the school, and, in this case, principles rooted in a marginalized history.
Letterform Archive’s second exhibition celebrates design that empowers communities and fights oppression.
In collaboration with Polymode, we’re excited to announce Strikethrough: Typographic Messages of Protest, a new exhibition on view beginning July 23, 2022. Curated by Silas Munro of the design studio Polymode with Stephen Coles of Letterform Archive, the exhibition will feature more than 100 objects, including broadsides, buttons, signs, t-shirts, posters, and ephemera spanning the 1800s to today.
In sections exploring the many ways to voice dissent (VOTE!, RESIST!, LOVE!, TEACH!, and STRIKE!), the show will chart a typographic chant of resistance across more than a century of protest graphics.
A first-of-its-kind exhibition captures the innovation and community of graffiti, as seen in the pages of indie publications.
Experience Subscription to Mischief
Our next exhibition celebrates a combination seldom seen on museum walls. Featuring Greg Lamarche’s archives and Letterform Archive’s collection of graffiti magazines, Subscription to Mischief explores 1990s graffiti zines with a special focus on the making of Skills. It highlights original works by prominent and lesser-known writers of the ’90s through the pieces, throwups, and handstyles featured in letters, flick trade photos, and magazine submissions. Taking a close look at practitioners as documentarians, and how magazines served as launch pads for creative careers, Subscription to Mischief is a time capsule of graffiti letterforms and a tribute to the community formed through snail mail.