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Without Type: The Dynamism of Handmade Letters Opens at San Francisco Center for the Book

The exhibition organized by Letterform Archive in San Francisco brings together handmade letter art from the 15th century to today.

Without Type exhibition

On January 22, 2016 the San Francisco Center for the Book will open an exhibition organized by Letterform Archive in San Francisco that showcases handmade examples of the letter arts made by practitioners from various disciplines, including calligraphers, architects, type designers, and illustrators. By juxtaposing works created across diverse time periods and geographical locations, the exhibition seeks to highlight the tremendous creativity and myriad possibility for the handmade letter arts, while at the same time drawing connections between seemingly disparate works.

While most of the letterforms that we come into contact with daily derive from standardized digital typefaces, all of the works included in Without Type started out handmade: sketched with a pencil, cut out of wood or linoleum, written with an edged pen or calligraphic brush, painted, torn or cut out of paper, or even built with vectors on a computer. Curated by Rob Saunders with Associate Curator Kate Robinson from Letterform Archive, the exhibition delves into the Archive’s rich collection to showcase some of its most compelling handmade items.

Among the works on view will be manuscripts, psychedelic posters, pen calligraphy, and vector lettering, featuring works by renowned type design and illustration luminaries such as Jessica Hische, El Lissitzky, Eric Carle, and William Addison Dwiggins, among others. Taken together, the works highlight the genesis of letter art, and reveal the way techniques and aesthetic concepts used in works hundreds of years ago are still alive today.

“Throughout the exhibition, works from different time periods will be shown together, highlighting the way in which a more contemporary work echoes a technique applied in an older work,” said Curator Rob Saunders. “By coupling a spread from a 15th-century manuscript next to a spread of abstract calligraphy from the 1970s printed in a comic book, for instance, the exhibition sheds light on the way technique has evolved, yet continues to reference earlier works, highlighting patterns and diversions in the ways in which humans have crafted communication throughout time.”

Without Type: The Dynamism of Handmade Letters is made possible by Grants for the Arts | San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, The Kahle Austin Foundation, and the Kahle Austin Fund through the San Francisco Foundation.

Exhibition Dates: January 22 - April 3, 2016
Opening Reception: January 22, 2016, 6:00 to 8:00 PM; RSVP here
Cost: Admission is free
Location: San Francisco Center for the Book, 375 Rhode Island Street, San Francisco