Experimenta Typographica

Willem Sandberg, director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam from 1945 until 1963, emerged as a highly original practitioner of the new typography after World War II. During the war, while hiding and working for the Resistance, he created his experimenta typographica, a series of probing typographic experiments in form and space that was finally published in the mid-1950s and inspired his later work.

Experimenta Typographica

Experimenta Typographica

 

 

Sandberg was an explorer; his text settings were often completely unjustified, and sentence fragments were arranged freely on the page, with ultrabold or delicate script introduced for accent or emphasis. He rejected symmetry and liked bright primary colors and strong contrasts, as well as muted hues and subtle juxtapositions. Crisp sans-serif type was combined with large torn paper collage letterforms with rough edges. Exhibition catalogue text was often printed on coarse brown paper, in contrast to the coated enamel pages interspersed for halftones.

Experimenta Typographica

In the Museum journaal voor moderne kunst cover, contrasts of scale, color, and edge are used in a seemingly casual but highly structured layout. The white negative areas around the m and j interact dynamically with the red letters. The torn edges contrast with the crisp type and sharp-edged blue bar, which has an E torn from it. In the 1957 cover for the Stedelijk Museum’s library catalogue, the first six letters of the word bibliotheek are also made from torn paper, denoting a fascination with serendipity inherited from Werkman. Sandberg’s work demonstrates that many of the underlying design ideas of the new typography remained vital after World War II.

2017 History of Graphic Design

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