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The Bauhaus Context: Typography and Graphic Design in France Author(s): Roxane Jubert and John Cullars Reviewed

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The Bauhaus Context:Typography and Graphic Design inFrance RoxaneJubert

of Bauhaus This essay on the reception was and itsenvironmentinFrance typography originally published inFrenchunderthe title & Graphisme:Dissemblances, "Typographie Dissonances... Disconvenance? La Franceen Marge de laR?volution Typographique" inLe Bauhaus et la France, 1919-1940, edited by Isabelle Ewig,ThomasW. Gaehtgens, and Akademie Verlag/ Matthias Noell (Berlin: Centreallemand d'histoirede l'art, 2002), of essays inFrench 163-188. [Collection or German].See Roger Ch?telains review, "Pr?cieux?clairages sur 'le Bauhaus et la Monatsbl?tter3 France,'" inTypograf?sehe (2003): 5-8. byJohnCullars. Englishtranslation

[...]for

the letter is the site where

all graphic

abstractions

converge.

[...] since humankind

began

towrite, what

sort

been thepoint ofdeparture you will see its secretbecome for ITake a letter: its where you will find associations [...] [...] throughout deeper infinite
everything, the whole world: its history, yours.

of games

has

the letter not

[...] an art, the typographical Roland Barthes1

art, abandoned

by

our

grand

culture.

make language visible, Previously used above all as a medium intendedto own visual and thepossibility revealed its disclosed qualities typography
of an and, a specific expression. isolated infact, event: [...] moreover, the typographical of a new of a cultural revolution was not it took up the cause socio-political consciousness

accompanied

thefoundation

renewal.

Roland Barthes, "Ert?ou A la lettre"in M. Ricci, 1972), after En? (Parma:F. wards cited in: uvres completes (Paris: Eds. du Seuil, 1993-), vol. 2, Paris 1994, 1222-1240; 1228 and 1231 forthe first citation, 1239 forthe second.

choices [of theBauhaus] [...] appear as unique and [...] the typographical in [...] thenew typography[...] revolutionary thehistoryof typography.
is anchored medium relations Herbert in a new conception of technology, in its own functions role, and as a in its for communication, in its social and humanistic

to the other arts of the period. Bayer2

HerbertBayer, "OnTypography" (1967), cited in Arthur Cohen,Herben Bayer MIT Press, 1984), (Cambridge/London: 350-352, and 350; and forthe second and citation,HerbertBayer, "Typography Design at the Bauhaus" (1971), cited in Cohen (1984), 352-354, and 352.

what may France [...] did not play a vital part in And it iswell known that
well be called the "typographical revolution/' related to the movement known as the Bauhaus.

Roger Ch?telain3 As the visual inscription of language and the imprint of thought, are overlooked by thewhole typography conceals the stakes that
state of existing in a singular world, warily loaded with meta-mean

Roger Ch?telain, "Si l'?cole Estienne m'?tait cont?e..." inTypografische Monatsbl?tter/RevueSuisse de 3:2001:10-11. l'imprimerie Itshould be noted thatRoger Ch?telain, of the journal former Editor-in-Chief Monatsbl?tter/Revue Typografische endeavored to Suisse de l'imprimerie, on Franco-German throw light relations some intypography, notably launching out disagree broadsides and pointing ments inthe journal.

question of design. Roland Barthes's epigraph well expresses that ings. That knowledge of the fundamental nature of the letter and the forces atwork in itpermit a view of typography in thework of
artists other from than the first decades a radical Doubtless, to express scene aesthetic of the twentieth phenomenon first of all and out appreciate century exciting consider the as something or fascination the

repulsion. pursuit an artistic

one must the Zeitgeist,

frenzied of

interactions its spatio

that was

quite

of the ordinary.

With

? 66

ofTechnology 2006 Massachusetts Institute

Design Issues: Volume 22, Number4 Autumn2006

was able to imbue temporal situation and its goals, the Bauhaus itself with European "isms" and set itselfup as an experimental laboratory. Typography, graphics, and photography experienced visible developments therewhich were indissoluble from their Weimar Republic. Carried away exceptional floweringwithin the of and the universality by a communicational ideal, these utopia by
practices 4 IntheNetherlands, theUSSR, Poland, and Czechoslovakia; then in Germany, Switzerlandand Italy. 5 had signifi De Stijl and constructivism as on the cant repercussions in Germany, Bauhaus. Beginning in 1922,Th?o van Doesburg proposed De Stijl courses at Weimar,which were attended bymost of the studentsof the Bauhaus. Elsewhere, was held Russian artexhibition the first inBerlin in 1922. 6 7 Bauhaus 2:3 (1928): 29. See also note 40. Far from theBauhaus's ambitionfor one findsthe expres internationalization, sion of typographical nationalism in with RudolfKoch, Fritz Helmut Germany Ehmcke,and evenwith Paul Renner. Hans Peter See Koch, cited in Willberg 's "Fraktur and Nationalism" inPeter Bain and Paul Shaw, Blackletter:Typeand National Identity (Hew York:Princeton Architectural Press, 1998),40-48, 43: "Germanscript is likea symbolof the inherent mission of theGerman people who, among all civilized races,must [...] act as a living model and example of itsunique, distinctive, and nationalistic character inall manifestationsof life." Yvonne Schwemmer Ehmcke,cited in Scheddin's "Broken Images" in Willberg Gothic (1998), 50-67, 59: "Just like design inotherarts,Gothic lettering wherever virileGerman appears primarily manhood issymbolizedby fighting, creat ingnationsand building.";Renner,cited inRogerCh?telains "Paul Rennersous les feuxde l'histoire"inTypografische Monatsbl?tter/RevueSuisse de 5 (2000): 9: "Each people l'imprimerie [...]has the typefacethat itdeserves [...]. not Andwhat should our typefacebe if the expression of the true,the authentic German soul?" 8 An important world of typog figureinthe was in Francis Thibaudeau France, raphy incharge of compositionservices at the He pennedmany classic Peignot foundry. works on typography. the heart activities.4 became the object of an unprecedented of strong and craze throughout shared of Europe, Thus, many to the rhythm external constant

dynamics

sprang

from the Bauhaus

typography and related activities?the


constructivism were notably decisive

influences ofDe Stijl and of


1920s.5 Enthusiasm

in the early

spread well beyond theborders of Central andWestern Europe?the was a slogan displayed in "Come and study at the bauhaus!" [sic] a eight languages, including French {"venez ?tudier Bauhaus\"[sic\) in
the school's Off journal.6 to the side of that Central European effervescence spread typographers themselves were dreaming of transnational forms.

by the changes in graphic design and typography, France followed


the

aesthetic differences? Inertia?Reticence? It ishard to find an answer


without invoking

experiments

with

certain

reserve.

Was

it

straightforward

died on the battlefield during World War I, and Cassandre's elder brother,Henri, died in 1914 at the very beginning of thewar?the
ascendancy of Germanophobia, and visceral nationalism. In France,

yesterday's

enemy?"the

four Peignot

brothers,"

in typography effectively a defended strong patriotic approach throughout the twentieth


century wars did (and the some German Here typographers are a few between samples. inmodern define In the two world 1901, Francis He all for same.)7

some of the most

important names

Thibaudeau explained

evoked that: "Once clarity

the "French again, and

style

typography."8 the French spirit: assured

one must

joy and beauty, the future."

elegance

[...] is in this manner his Manuel fran?ais

Thibaudeau

published

de typographie

moderne [French Manual of Modern Typography] in 1924. There also was Marius Audin's Le Livrefran?ais [TheFrenchBook] in 1930.At the
same time, in the east, beyond in the same upon "Latin typography national vein: graphic largely was Other Vox and and considered French Ladislas writing." in terms fragments, Mandel Charles of exchanges later but calling boundaries. Maximilien arts"

"Latin

Peignot evoked "the glory of French typography." Vox again: "The typographic fireworks [in France] that illuminated the 1920s and 30s." In a work published in 1982, Georges Bonnin, then director
of the Imprimerie upon a new Nationale, and envisioned illustration' "a constructive typography." reflection Lure's 'defense of French

Rencontres internationales [InternationalEncounters] would publish de la typographie D?fense et illustration fran?aise [Defenseand Illustration ofFrench Typography] (conference papers
on as by if the word the epithet "typography" "French." From

from 1993). Everything


should naturally be this nationalistic defense,

went

in France

qualified

67 Design Issues: Volume 22, Number4 Autumn2006

chronic isolationism was born, leading tominimal exchange across the French-German border. Why did such a situation exist when or Poles spread so readily? The geopolitical situation and relations
with many make Germany Dutch, much can Russian, of a splash only partially or Czech in France. explain graphic the phenomenon, also did since not innovations exchanges among the Soviets, the Dutch, the Hungarians, Germans,

Big Deviations and Little Echoes A comparative survey of theprincipal figuresof graphic design and typography in France and inGermany between the twoworld wars
shows artists, arts a strong disproportion poster makers, and marked typographers, divergences. or those Graphic in the fine At the designers, very

followed

different

trajectories

in the two

countries.

Bauhaus, three figures distinguished themselves by their teaching as much as by theirpractice: L?szl? Moholy-Nagy, Herbert Bayer,
and Joost Schmidt. Let us mention in passing some of the numerous

figures then active inGermany: Jan Tschichold, Kurt Schwitters,


the dadaist Raoul Hausmann, El Lissitzky, Paul Renner, Walter

Dexel, Max Burchartz, Johannes Canis, Rudolf Koch, Jakob Erbar,


Friedrich Doesburg. Vordemberge-Gildewart, Most of them were C?sar multifaceted D?mela, and Th?o van who artist-designers

were not trained in typography?the works ofMoholy-Nagy


of Schwitters are emblematic and of that singular Joost Schmidt, who also richness were inherent very the age.9 Moholy-Nagy 9 and See HerbertBayer's "Typography Design at the Bauhaus" (1971), cited inCohen (1984), page 353,where he himselfexplains that retrospectively was much easier to undo traditional "It concepts sincemost of us had not as typog receivedprofessional training were not limited by raphersand thus received ideas." worked 10 Cassandre and Charles Loupot togetherbeginning in 1930 underthe name ofAlliance Graphique, but the part nershipdid not last. 11 The main foundry for lettersinFrance, founded in 1923 and closed in1972, & Company becoming part of Girard the Deberny foundries?formerly Foundry?and Peignot& Company. and editor,bought Balzac, once a printer was which later the J. G. Gill? Foundry, renamedDeberny& Company, inassocia Laurent. tion with the type-founder 12 Charles Peignotmanaged the foundry from1939 to 1972. Maximilien Vox 13 See Un hommede lettre, et al., eds. (Paris: Agence culturellede Paris, 1994), 140. 68 with the Bauhaus studios. In France, French one Their graphic and work the situation artists must was radically can be somewhat Here being Loupot. one different. on visual

and
in

involved and

communication,

directed

the metal

sculpture

Exceptional the fingers of

at the time be was considered on

counted

hand,

isolated finds "the

figures.10 3 Cs"? figure), develop took on

primarily (Adolphe Paul

posters. Mouron

Cassandre Jean Carlu,

Jean-Marie

the dominant In a parallel

Colin?and

Charles

ment, the type foundryDeberny & Peignot supported typographic


creation (fonts and

Maurras's

Maximilien Vox (thepseudonym of Samuel Monod, who published L'Avenir de l'Intelligencefran?aise [The Future of French Nouveaux Destins de l'Intelligence fran?aise).13 Intelligence] in 1942 in
The French and German typographical scenes seem to have

experimental type fonts by Cassandre and founded the journal Arts et M?tiers graphiques [TheArts and Graphic Professions] in 1927.12 The foundry particularly benefited from the active contributions of

artistic direction of the establishment in 1923, notably used some

publications).11

Charles

Peignot,

who

the

had very few things in common. Their links,while perceptible,


are some suggested traces but never asserted. reception trips. On Here can be and seen: there, furtive nonetheless, exchanges, and artists. of reciprocal and a few

brief meetings, Charles Peignot

the French

side, Cassandre graphic

discovered

the Bauhaus

and German

Design Issues: Volume 22, Number4 Autumn2006

Their receptionwas enthusiastic.Many publications now forgotten testifyto this. In 1929, Cassandre published an edifying panorama of European avant-garde publicity that reflected the "new typogra u were by phy." Of the forty-ninedocuments included, seventeen in them Germany; among Moholy-Nagy, artist-designers working
Bayer, Included 14 See A. M. Cassandre, Publicit? (Paris: CharlesMoreau, 1929) (L'Artinterna tionald'aujourd'hui,vol. 12). 15 Inhis introduction, Cassandre underlines the new presence of publicity:"The has barelybeen languageof publicity born,but ithas been born. [...]The goal of this work isnot to give a complete ?mage of contemporaryinternational public We have simplytriedto gather [...] ity. togethersome of themost representative works thathave come our way." 16 His articledoes not specifya visit to the but LionelRichardspecifies institution, inhis Encyclop?diedu Bauhaus (Paris: Somogy, 1985),247, that "Charles Peignot [...]visited the school."Moreover, document6-F-0073-77,preserved inthe Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, Nachlass Mies van der Schriftenarchiv, Rohe,mentions Peignot's visit,among We those of otherFrenchmenin 1931/32. thankElke Mittmann forthis information. 17 Charles Peignot, "L'enseignement profes sionnel," Vu (L'?nigme allemande) 213 (1932): 546-548 and 580. 18 FernandBaudin reports that Maximilien Voxwas ina position to pressureCharles Peignot to go to Frankfurt concerning the purchase of the rights forFuturaat See RogerCh?telain, theBauer foundry. "R?actions relatives? Paul Renneret au Futura,"Typographische Monatsbl?tter/ 1 (2001 ): Revue Suisse de l'imprimerie 14-16. 19 Maurice Thireau, L'Art Moderne et la Graphie (Paris:Bureau de l'Edition, 1930), 101-102. The publisherof this also work, Le Bureau de l'?dition, published FrancisThibaudeau's La Lettre See below. d'Imprimerie. 20 See Jan Tschichold,"Qu'est-ce que la et que veut-elle?" nouvelle typographie Arts etM?tiers graphiques 4 (1930): 46-52. examples illustrated Austria, one-third certainly Tschichold, were Baumeister, posters, art being Great was ads, applied done Britain, Molzahn, covers, Dexel, photomontages, Other and Burchartz. and even

of graphic what

to architecture. in Poland, and came

documents France, than

Czechoslovakia,

Switzerland,

the United

States. More

of the chosen took an accurate

examples measure

from Germany: had been

Cassandre taking place

of what

there since the late 1920s. His publication, which consisted mainly
of a collection of images, limited prose explications to a brief intro

duction.
Cassandre; of it.)15 The Charles

(It seems likely that little information was


otherwise, he probably was and would have taken

available
advantage

to

second who

testimonial had met

published conversed with

somewhat Gropius,

later. went

Peignot,

to visit the Bauhaus


in 1932, he devoted article on professional the Bauhaus the "elevated and

in the early 1930s.16In themagazine Vu [Sight]


several paragraphs in to the "Dessau in which no school" he in an education Germany17 succinctly He with inadequacy "typography," of the program also our of

introduced evoked neighbors," such teaching

in its totality with standard of current

reservations. production

concluded in France.

by discussing "The then design figured a

the relative fonts,"

of type

"letters," for his did

and course.

"the poster" His initial

in the details about positive

apprehensions from having

the trip to Germany and perceptive view typo to the

not prevent

Peignot Yet, he did

of the school.18 graphical eyes was known

not make would

the case have

for the Bauhaus's been a challenge

experiments, There and

which

of the French.

ismore

evidence

that the new

typography

appreciated made

in France the case

at that time.

In a 1930 publica everywhere

tion, Maurice now practice

Thireau so-called

that "The Germans typography,

restored to itsbasic elements. JeanTschichald [sic] ofMunich


spokesman espouse [...] for that its theories school in Holland, and for the numerous disciples and Czechoslovakia, typography made Russia, [...]

'elementary'

that is, typography

is the

who France.

In France,

'elementary'

its appearance,

and the apostles of JeanTschichald [sic] are represented by Th?odore


[sic] Van Arts que Doesburg and graphiques typographie Tristan Tzara."19 The same year, text, ["What the journal "Qu'est-ce Is the New etM?tiers la nouvelle published et que Tschichold's veut-elle?"

Want?"], which was adorned with Typography and What Does It of works reproductions by Moholy-Nagy, Lissitzky, Tschichold,
D?mela, etc.20

Design Issues: Volume 22, Number4 Autumn2006 69

Also in 1930, Cahiers d'art made the case for "a school of modern art,"where "there are classes on publicity (J. Schmidt) [and] on photography (Peterhans)."21 In 1929, the same journal published an article byMoholy-Nagy, illustratedby his photographic investiga
tions. Itmentions, in passing, for Cezanne's of Cahiers the influence work22, of cubism. Renner). (He expresses in the of the an admiration same number as does Later, editor

d'art, Christian of Bayer's

Zervos?the paintings Imet

journal?mentioned gallery Povolozky:

the exhibit "He

at the Parisian on my who visit is exhib prove at the to

is a young where he

artist, whom teaches These

the Bauhaus iting

at Dessau,

typography, diverse

for the first time was well

in Paris."23 around

testimonials

that France school However,

aware well

1929-30

of the experiments New a

in Dessau?as none

as Central

European

Typography. explanation of

this foreign typography,as ifthephenomenon had been noticed but


not truly appreciated.

of the publications

offered

genuine

Typography frombeyond theRhine found some otherways


France. The works of the Bauhaus were presented for the

of entering

firsttime in France in theGerman Section exhibit of theDeutscher Werkbund toGropius, assisted by Breuer, Bayer, and Moholy-Nagy;
catalogue, which was printed entirely without uppercase

at theGrand Palais in 1930.24 The exhibit was assigned and the


letters,

was conceived by Bayer. That work, like the exhibit, presented its
"system

find at the end of the catalogue thatBayer lived on Paris Street in


Along with remained the publications, sporadic. the German found presence Paul in French Renner on a In 1937, one

of unique

characters"

(einheitsschrift).

Interestingly,

we

Berlin.

exhibitions

jury for the selection of finebooks, organized along the plan of the
International Exhibition.

most often to The differentindications of reception are limited


21 Will Grohmann,"Une ?cole d'art moderne: Le 'Bauhaus' de Dessau: Acad?mie d'une plastique nouvelle," Cahiers d'anb (1930): 273-274. 22 See L?szl?Moholy-Nagy, "La photog raphie,ce qu'elle ?tait, ce qu'elle devra ?tre,"Cahiers d'an* 23 (1929): 28-33. Christian Zervos, "Herbert Bayer Cahiers d'an A ?(Galerie Povolozky)," (1929): 56. 24 See the chapterdevoted to that exhibition inLe Bauhaus et la France, W. 1919-1940, Isabelle Ewig,Thomas Gaehtgens, andMatthias Noell, eds. alle Akademie Verlag/Centre (Berlin: mand d'histoirede l'art, 2002). writ 25 Kombinationsschrift [combinatory consti composed ofmodular forms, ing], tutes an example ofmontagework that is visible as threegeometricforms. a few bits of information manifestly clear did not foster or exchanges strong ready was of specific influence. to accept under information, However, the new the name which it seems typogra "Europe" any

that French proof,

sensibility

some success. by theDeberny & Peignot foundry in 1930, enjoyed in 1927, turned out Futura, designed by Paul Renner and marketed tobe an emblematic typeface for the aesthetic ideals of theBauhaus.
Renner alphabet members; was not a member of the Bauhaus, that were but the first sketches close to those structure of his of its of its revealed geometric preoccupations forms very

phy. As

Futura

type, merchandised

constituted

the first visible

character, just as with the thenunpublished experimental alphabets Albers (stencils and combinatory writ of Bayer (Universal), Josef and Joost Schmidt. Strongly criticized ing [Kombinationsschrift]),25
by the advocates nonetheless that were of designed represented sufficiently rather a than constructed typography, of the with Futura moment the masses. synthesis down of the aspirations to communicate

toned

70

Design Issues: Volume 22, Number4 Autumn2006

may seem heretical to thosewho thinkof the letter Though it as exclusively the issue of natural movement and knowing gesture, Futura nevertheless may be seen as the realization of social ideals: will to simplify the letterby removing on the one hand, the fierce all itsparticularity or historical connotations to facilitate thedaring
production hand, of an "elementary" distinctly archetypical expressed Upon crossing by form; and, some, on the other up with becoming into experimen then advance the a the desire, to come and

transnational "Europe,"27 future?the tal fumblings

alphabet.26 Futura reflection lost

the border of

the expression

its projection European One may

of utopias kept

and Central at a distance.

that France

the hypothesis that this indirect reception of a typography that


resonated ciation, with but the Bauhaus presupposed a certain aesthetic plan, appre that it rested first of all on a commercial confirmed

a type that sold by the success of "Europe" type,which remained Deberny & Peignot foundry. particularlywell for threedecades at the
How can we

Futura could triumph at the same time as a specific (typo)graphical


phenomenon, overshadowed? in which Futura played a central symbolic role, was

explain

the fact that the aesthetic-commercial

value

of

The graphic arts and typography of the Bauhaus, and a fortiori, the new typography, probably did not find truly favor
able reception in France. for example, On each side, the border was palpable. from Cassandre, in the 1930s received commissions

England, theNetherlands, Italy,Switzerland, and theUnited States;


but

Charles Loupot pointed out that "... in the 1920s (and well after
that) was when everything considered the German that was suspect."28 scene, German How so near or, by can one extension, explain was such Germanic [...] a reservation with

apparently

not

from Germany.

The

monograph

devoted

to

at hand,

overflowing

unheard of richness, and with the principle of exchange flooding


26 Paul Renner See Christopher Burke, (London: Hyphen,1998), 105, according to which "Rennertriedto design a type with the concept of universality linked mind the particular but always had in needs of the German language [...] and described Futuraas 'an eminently German letter.'" 27 where See Ch?telain 2001 {R?action),15, he made the hypothesisthatthe French name of Futura,"Europe,"served to Germanicorigins." "mask its 28 Christophe Zagrodskiand Charles Loupot, Midi, 1998), 18. Loupot {Pans: Cherche Plaisirde bibliophile22 (1930), cited in FernandBaudin, Dossier Vox (Association des Compagnons de Lure,Belgium:R. Magermans,1975), 104. through too Europe? The French graphic arts culture then did not seem disposed towards As "The early shadow an encounter with that doubtless Vox is showed out disconcerting the first signs from Germany. and the

modernism. of panic: After

as 1930, Maximilien of Dr. Caligari played French with

reaching

having

momentarily

the rare dissonances in sure hands,

cocktails

of lowercase,

typography, to Germany,

is follow

true course."29 ing its Inversely, from France it appears that the transfer

of knowledge and practices did not go any further. Symmetrically,


one finds here and there in Germany a few small influences of French

graphic design in exhibits and in thepress. As for theBauhaus itself, Charles Peignot's visitwould be theonly point of contact attesting to a French typographical presence. But it was this school as an entity
that caught his attention. At the moment that he made his case in

29 Maximilien Vox, "Dix ans de publicit?,"

themagazine
already had production

Vu, the Bauhaus's


been conceived books, (stationery,

typography and graphic design


With its own etc.), printed as magazines, as well

in their essentials. posters,

71 Design Issues: Volume 22, Number4 Autumn2006

external commissions to fill, it would have been hard to overlook the school.30In fact,one could well be astonished at Peignot's discre
tion on been this subject because, in one way special been was or another, going on he would have aware that something it would have at the Bauhaus. discussion of

Moreover,

surprising

if some

the typography fromDessau


professional network in France

had not taken place, given Peignot's


(Cassandre, Vox, etc.) On his part,

Vox, from 1929 on, proclaimed thenew role for typography, though
always associated with is his patriotism: place [...]. "As It is not to type fonts, a new impossible inter nationalization taking that France,

with its innate sense of proportion, will see the birth of twentieth
century type Other and other [...]."31 links could be shown indicated, between but among France they always the members and Germany, were just as by

areas Thus,

of interest one

tenuous.

finds Cassandre

invited

theRing neue Werbegestalter [Circle of new advertising artists] in 1928 and 1929, and he participated in thisway in the new typography exhibits inMagdeburg, and in Berlin, in 1929. (The fewwritings
devoted to Cassandre seem reticent on this subject.) His name

occurs just below that of Bayer on printed material of that time, and the symbolic proximity of the two names hardly makes up for
an encounter that did Dexel, on Cassandre the Rhine. would not really take place. (Also etc.) mentioned The are Moholy-Nagy, available across Cassandre Burchartz, does Tschichold, information trip

not make "Bauhaus" aware

the case appears

for a possible here and

The word have been

there, and

of the activities

of the school

since 1919. Ifhe seems to have been the first with a lastingGerman for their French his interest, peers, part, apparently held littleplace
in the German Plakat in Paris" press. ("The by Thus, Poster in 1929, Die in Paris"). figures Form Here (Form) one published found "Das reproduc Loupot, on

tions of posters Carlu, and Paul

four main

of the era

(Cassandre,

Colin),

as well

as an

instructive

commentary

their work.32

Simultaneous Corroborating typographic

Dissonances the weakness practices show of the reception, many divergences, French and German

in spite

of chrono

thathypothetical 30 With the reservation archivesofferproofof the opposite view. Art et 31 Maximilien Vox, "Typographie," D?coration 56 (1929): 172. 32 "Das Plakat in See RogerGinsburger, Paris,"Die Form4 (1929): 583-585, as well as the articlebyJean-LouisCohen inthe same volumeA 33 Jules Ch?ret,active from The Frenchman of 1866, isconsidered to be the father themodern poster. 72

logical proximity. In the early 1920s, a (typo)graphic renewal took place simultaneously on either side of theRhine, with the year 1923
as a symbolic threshold. First of all, that year marked departed from a profound its expres "Art reorientation sionistic and of the first Bauhaus, artisanal attachments which

to adhere

to a new

motto,

and Technique: A New Unity." (The Bauhaus would at typographic printing office two years later, which time graphic expression would
the beginning artists began

integrate itsown

trulyfind itsplace.) The year 1923 equally marked


in France. A young generation of graphic makers out in the affiliation of painter-poster owed

of a renewal to stand

from the end of the previous

century.33 Cassandre

the beginning

Design Issues: Volume 22, Number4 Autumn2006

of his renown to his poster, "Au B?cheron" ["To the Woodcutter"], which dates precisely from 1923. Loupot's career in France equally took off in 1923with his "Voisin" posters for the eponymous auto mobiles. Both were surprising.Moreover, the "B?cheron" graphics34 attracted ferocious criticism fromLe Corbusier: "An uproar is in the
streets. In such [...]When a context, one how falls 'into the modern,' imagine one can fall very more low."35 radical can we that the much could

experimentation reception a pictorial,

of the Bauhaus Where tradition; The school

movement poster

find a favorable perpetuated to break with

in France? designed codes.

the French

makers eager

the Bauhaus adhered

was

pre-existing tions shared

to new

(typo)graphic professional

orienta graphic

by German,

Russian,

and Dutch

designers.

Just as abstract art investigated the formal qualities of


34 Cassandre produced several variationsof the posterAu B?cheron, the first dating from1923. 35 Le Corbusier, cited in Henri Mouron, A. M. Cassandre (Geneva/NewYork:Rizzoli, 1985),26. 36 See L?szl?Moholy-Nagy, "Typo-Photo," Mitteilungen Special Typografische Number (October1925): 202-205, where he explains: "The typo-photois themost precise imageof information [...]." In Photographieet soci?t? (Paris: Eds. du Seuil, 1974), 187,Gis?le Freund describesMoholy-Nagy as "The great theoretician of photography, the first who understoodthe new creative paths that it was opening"?conceptions that would on graphic have the greatest influence design and typography. 37 The use of photographyisextremelyrare in Cassandre swork. His 1932 poster "Wagon-Bar"shows a montage uniting design and photography. 38 from1929,1930, Dating, respectively, and 1937, the typefacesBifur, Acier, and were produced by theDeberny& Peignot came These inventions Peignot Foundry. than theBauhaus experi slightlylater which did not go beyond the ments, planningstage and of Futuratype.Let us mention here the presentationpamphlet forBifurtype, which containeda textby Blaise Cendrars ("Seule une lettre n'est rien [...].")?reviving the combined typo graphical-literary experiences dear to the Cubo-futurists. 39 Sylvia Colle-Lorant,"A.M. Cassandre of the affichiste," thesis,University Marc Le Bot, Paris, Sorbonne,Paris I,dir. 1982,94. painting?color, directly line, surface, of contrast, etc.?so tension, too, typography tackled the concepts asymmetry, proportions,

etc. French graphic design, which only skirted these concepts, did
not grasp them not in as direct them. a manner. The Sometimes, can be designers specified. even For seemed to know actors divergences typography,

the European

of the new

the association

of type

and photography offered new perspectives. Moholy-Nagy forged thenotion of the "typophoto" in 1925, having begun to experiment
with the two modes of expression in the early 1920s.36 In Berlin,

publicity and photography studios of the Bauhaus were united. In


this new that these approach, manual age had illustration rendered was assimilated The French, to a skill far from tradition. poster image the machine revolutionary only also were very obsolete. reinvented photography.37

orientations, rarely used

the design His

Cassandre makers

fellow text and

attached

to design,

often generating the introduction of

in the same a body alien

gesture.

It is, perhaps,

photography, of "white

space"?or, Germany,

to the text, that promoted more the space precisely, and the Netherlands, equilibrium. breaks etc. in scale, clarity At

the consciousness that was not

imprinted?in the break with graphic artists levels,

Russia,

thus affirming the Bauhaus, the hierarchy and

the pro-symmetrical touted effects asymmetry, of contrast, a new "image."

of reading

Seeking mise

effectiveness,

they sought

to translate of the mute

textual

en sc?ne, attached

to the expressivity

Such iconographie choices reflect two different conceptions of typography. There are other disparities still to be noted. On the French side, these arise above all from the graphic and typographic
creation Cassandre's; Cassandre of a large number among would In and be them "the of posters Bifur, and some and type fonts?notably Moreover, interested the heat the approach in of Acier, Peignot.38 who was

first poster

maker

this subject."39 the moment

Germany,

at the Bauhaus research

as elsewhere, stimulated

to all kinds of graphic and typographic objects: visual identities,


books and journals, posters, the alphabet, experimental composi

interdisciplinary

Design Issues: Volume 22, Number4 Autumn2006 73

tions, and other aspects of typography such as the inscriptionof text in space (volume, perspective, architecture,etc.). From 1925 onwards,
the members alphabets, of the Bauhaus which transformed took up their the concept ideals. Bayer of experimental conceived the

Universal Schrift as a unique alphabet composed only of lowercase


letters. At lowercase the same letters. time, Bayer the Bauhaus caused affirmed its predilection to be accepted; for this radical choice

inscribingon the school's letterhead in the fallof 1925, "Wir schreiben


alles klein, denn wir case, so as to save house sparen damit zeit." ["We write as an everything in lower Bauhaus's deci time."]40 Presented DIN formats economy?the

printing

adopted

at the same

time41?that

sion just as perfectly reflected the utopia of the essence of the letter,
of an Ur-form, ahistorical, and of a letter that was, astylistic. to a certain degree, anonymous,

At virtually the same moment in 1926, Cassandre opted for


another decided resolutely 40. "Wewrite everythingin lowercase to was initially save time."The proposition formulated by Bayer and accepted by was a matterof suppressing Gropius. It all capitals inthe school's print produc tion. We can still read on the header of the school's letterhead:"Whytwo alpha word [...]?"and "We bets fora single write exclusively in lowercase, sincewe do not speak inuppercase." This aspect had an of the Bauhaus's typography on the typographic influence important work ofMax Bill.The choicewas all the more radicalforGermany, since all nouns had been capitalized since the beginning of the sixteenthcentury. Questioning the omnipresenceof the capital letterinthe German languagegoes back to 1822with and Jacob Grimm's Deutsche Grammatik other proposals of thatnature?includ ingthe proposal of a single alphabet, suppressing uppercase?were made at the beginningof the twentieth century, before the experimentsof the Bauhaus. 41. The DIN (Deutsche Industrie Normen) which sets normsforthe paper format, was established and stationers, industry in Germany in1924. The A4 formatis a DIN norm. Mouron (1985),20. 42. Cassandre, cited in 43. See the slogans, "Liberty, equality,frater no etc. "Post bills," nity," 44. FrancisThibaudeau, La Lettre d'lmprimerieVol. I (Paris:Bureau de l'?dition,1921),xxv. 74 the poster alternative: against capital to "I don't letters capital know if experimental science [...] But has just in favor of 'lowercase' letters. My orient my architectural preferences I remain of the

attached must

conception [...] toward

necessarily

primitive letter, the lapidary letter, [...] the true, the substantially
monumental."42 possible, though The French /Bauhaus be more divergence nuanced. was as explicit as it should Cassandre was think

ing, above all, of the poster (though his Peignot type, conceived as type for text, tends to be made of shapes of capital letters), and
some also that German had such a graphic artists such as Walter letters. Dexel Is it not are or Max always as much Burchartz the case indica ones? predilection choices with for capital their even

latent meanings views,

tors of socio-cultural, The capital letter

ideological, is a monumental inscription: and more authoritarian.43 legible?one are inscribed and

as of aesthetic constant, The cursive

imposing, lowercase to say more them of

sometimes letter

dominating, homely,

is supple, Latin

is tempted

democratic. selves?the

These

hierarchies majus et minor

in the very words less].

[more

Is there not a kind

endorsement here of the French concept of typography that is linked


to the past Other and concerned significant with grandeur? confirm the Franco-German examples

dichotomy. In the 1920s, the Bauhaus and new typography opted for sans serif type,which was felt to be the best expression of themoment. In 1921, Francis Thibaudeau brought out La Lettre Printing Office] inAuriol, a 1901 type d'Imprimerie [TheLetter of the
that was emblematic of art nouveau. The author, full of patriotic

with the followingwords: "May enthusiasm, ended his introduction


this work printed of popularization letter and then [...] inspire interest and in the nature applications, of the [...] for in the art of its use

the greatest profit of thenational industryand the triumphof French


La Lettre

art."44

classifications of lettersthatare stillalluded includes some of the first


to even today. Oddly enough, the will to organize the mass of letters

d'Imprimerie

remains

a very

instructive

work.

It

Design Issues: Volume 22, Number4 Autumn2006

fits inwith specific Bauhaus preoccupations. For example, Albers was not "meant to was careful to specify thathis Kombinationsschrift add to the 18,000 typefaces that already exist."45 Itwas customary inGermany at the time to introduce typographic reforms inprint.

Literature on the subject abounds. Books, essays, and articles can be counted in thehundreds; doubtless even the thousands.
At times the Bauhaus, the ferment ideas, a and of ideas, the exchange?some a new graphic theoreti design, the dissent?of generated runs the will to establish on

cal foundation

quantity

of reflections

typography, and photography. The listsof publications byMoholy


Nagy or Bayer to many press. pages, This and As with publications is not also we appearing peculiar to regularly the Bauhaus: able number in the foreign phenomenon Paul Renner

Jan Tschichold of publications.46

left a consider can mention the

for France,

creation of the journalArts et M?tiers graphiques (1927-39) by Charles


Peignot, Cassandre, but particularly who gave the rarity of writings some instructive on the graphic left notes arts. and interviews,

letters behind. More modest


tered citations and cannot probably be

still, Charles Loupot


taught. from In Germany, the professional on

leftonly scat
the push exchanges hand, the for

never

publications and the vigor

separated work. schools,

of collective

In France,

the other

absence movements

of large networks, explains

or of comparably of writings

amalgamated on the subject.

the relative

poverty

one of Tschichold's major Die neue Typographie,[The New Typography,]


interwar works, still awaits a French translation.

Divergence? Many things seem to affirm, in one way or another, that France

largely avoided the graphic design revolution, the new typography


movement, different perhaps tieth another and the Bauhaus a resistance of nationalist ideas can received imagine a experiments. to certain Was aspects this the result of a sensibility, the gestation these one of modern art, or the twen in France. of these works In

feeling? chilly

Throughout reception

century,

scenario,

would have fed a lively controversy. (Themembers ofDe Stijl did not
hesitate 45 46 JosefAlbers, "Kombinationsschrift 3," Bauhaus] (1931): n. p. Tschichold isknownto havewritten books and more thanone nearlyfifty more thana hundredarticles; Renner left hundredpublications. 47 Vilmos Husz?r,De StijIV (1922): 136, cited in Magdalena Droste's Bauhaus (Cologne:B. Taschen, 1994), 54, and Th?o van Doesburg, cited inRuedi Baur's La nouvelle typographie (Paris:CNDP, 1993), 60. sionist to express jam" and "a their disapproval hospital of the early which Bauhaus?"expres they were to exert for artists"?on

that the discovery

a big influence.)47 What keeps coming back is thequestion ofwhy the


somewhat turous ence negative French invited phenomenon, of outright reception?after criticism?grew to prolonged The Some all, the Bauhaus's from a general misapprehension, postwar French adven indiffer and recep in typography to a foreign

later an expression tion, in this respect,

hostility.

is quite

inglorious.

of the biggest

names

typography (and partisans of gestural writing) have expressed their


opinions reserved aversion. on the subject in the past few decades, transforming the cutting silence of the previous Vox, generation into a sometimes

Maximilien

ad nauseam:

Design Issues: Volume 22, Number4 Autumn2006 75

The doctrine inwhich we believe cannot be other than Latin. [...] Fads pass, theybecome outmoded, whether Germanizing, Slavifying,Americanizing. All the signs are
there: very shortly the purest French

most French gesture, design?will flourish again like a the rose under the gray skies of the world. And that will be the
renewal of the Latin letter.48

gift, grace?served

by

By 1950, the tone quickly gets shriller. J?r?me Peignot, Charles


Peignot's the creation ous role son, will go so far as house to write type, In the one same that: may vein, "As not to what omit concerns the nefari Mediavilla of printing

of the Bauhaus."49

Claude

declared at the end of his book Calligraphie [Calligraphy], published


48 Maximilien Vox, "Pourune graphie Caract?re 1(1950): 245. latine," 49 J?r?me Peignot, "L'esprit et la lettre"in De plomb, d'encre & de lumi?re(Paris: Nationale, 1982),277-307, Imprimerie 290. J?r?me Peignot taught particularly the course at the Sorbonne-Paris I.The restof the citationfollows: "Havewe notovervalued it[theBauhaus] interms of typography? of [...]The typographers that school;Albers, HerbertBayer,Laszlo Moholy-Nagy,and Joost Schmidt; threw out corporealor spontaneous gestures [...].Now we are biased; theythrewout want to suppress upper case, now they serifs."The defensive position isexplicit here; the factof having "dismembered" was the cause ofmuch anxiety. the letter 50 51 52 Claude Mediavilla, Calligraphie (Paris, 1993), 299-300. "Les folies typographiques du nazisme" in ?tapes graphiques 60 (2000): 34-35. See Roger Ch?telains "Paul Rennersous les feuxde l'histoire," Typografische Monatsbl?tter/RevueSuisse de 5 (2000): l'imprimerie 9 and "R?actions relatives? Paul Renneret au Futura,"Typografische Monatsbl?tter/RevueSuisse de l'imprimerie] (2001): 14-16. wrote the followingin 1998,15: Burke "Futura did not become the officialtype was used by theNazis. [...] face even ifit As much as forhis culturalBolshevism, was the resultof the his [Renners]arrest book thatcontained publicationof a little a bittercritiqueof the regime." 53 Ladislas Mandel, ?critures: Miroir des hommes et des soci?t?s (ReiHanne, France:Atelier Perrousseaux, 1998), 167, 169, and 175. 76 by the Imprimerie a sane Nationale, and that "If, at first, the Bauhaus reaction, it nonetheless adven quickly [...]. In many artistic move ture seemed showed respects, promising because be

itself to be pernicious the Bauhaus may

of its dogmatism an artificial

considered

ment." On the subject of thenew typography,he added, "Tschichold


was able to resist this yoke the same and was able to dodge these frauds since as the year "type with 1933."50 At time, Futura vocation regime's type could of universal authority on be presented domination," typographical

appropriate Paul Renner

for the Reich's becoming "the

matters"51?assertions
Monatsbl?tter/Revue criticisms emanated

sharply disputed in the journal Typografische


de l'imprimerie.52 One Mandel, who, of the most virulent no from Ladislas in 1998, wrote

Suisse

less than that "The Bauhaus, preaching the integrationof all the arts,
[...] mixed Bayer typography and architecture. [...] The research and of Herbert Paul Renner of Latin pared a this. all at the Bauhaus, of J. Albers, of 2000 Jan Tschichold, years

[...] resulted writing. down certain But

in the negation

of the evolution serif text typefaces,' It is hard attitude to believe found a fascist on

[...] Therefore, and soulless, to our

the arrival

of 'sans

in the first half cultural

of this century,

represented

threat

heritage."53 virulent. "The This

it could

get with

even more

its ultimate school," he

expression exclaimed Biblioth?que

Jos? Mendoza: the occasion

Bauhaus,

in 1995, on Nationale.54

of a debate a rather

typography misreading.55

at the

This was

strange

Doubtless, French bitterness had to be made explicit to allow


for conditions "pernicious," language conducive "dogmatic," reported here to a sane, objective reception. "Nefarious," etc.?the "artificial," comes "fraud," "fascist,"

from well-known

Should we view thisas fear inspiredby the tardyarrival of the avant garde typographical revolution? These unyielding judgments,which
moreover were never among supported different by schools any evidence, often arose as much quar These from quarrels (most legitimate

professionals.

rels, for that matter)

as from fundamental

misunderstandings.

considerations really limit typography to thedesign of letters, which is itself reduced to skillfully drawn writing, the heir ofmore than
three-thousand years of alphabetical writing. Far from this relatively

Design Issues: Volume 22, Number4 Autumn2006

Does not a certain rejection of the abstract Plane] and architecture.56 more closely, arematters To look into this with French reserve?57 fitin
more

traditionalistprofessionalism, the typographyof theBauhaus located its ideas within graphic design, photography, design, Kandinsky's theories (particularly Punkt und Linie zu Fl?che) [Point and Line to

itselftobe beneficial and a radicalmodernism. Did notMoholy-Nagy refer to the graphic quality of incunabula, inwhich he found some
characteristics

complex

than

the opposition

between

a tradition

that considers

even further in this other perspective on modernity: "The Middle


Ages work deposited of its uncial Of a treasure letters."59 reception, there remains the curse pronounced of experiences, dreams, judgments, in the

of avant-garde

typography?58

Roland

Barthes

went

upon the incompletion of a dream suspended


common condemn measure it?on with the credo and the establishment of a disconcerting does not keep supporting us of a new typographical from recognizing these views.

that pitiless

in flight?without a
of those who power, and on

the know-how textual

the exploration these reactions

"space."

To castigate or not

the know-how they do

knowledge

of those

Because

occupy the same ground, the objectives of thenew typography and


the most refined practice of letter design cannot be compared. We

must consider what this distracted reception misunderstood;


Bauhaus's Moholy-Nagy typography was was, first of all, Bayer was the work born of foreigners? and Hungarian, in Austria,

the
both

leftforBerlin in 1920?and
typography, A stand the but rather few observations idealist goal was depth not

was not carried out by those trained in it


wide-ranging work help us artists. to better "His under Bayer's that era's

by particularly on of

aspirations:

universal repre

alphabet's

to become

typographical

letters, but

54

Eveningdebate, "Y a-t-ilun axe nord-sud at the Biblioth?que de la typographie?" Nationale, Paris, 1995. Cited in Ch?telains "D?bats ? laBiblioth?que Nationale ? Paris" in May Gutenberg, 10,1995, under the heading "Reflets techniques" (a complementary publica tion toRevue Suisse de l'imprimerie). See also Ch?telain, "Ma typographie," Monatsbl?tter/Revue Typografische Suisse de l'imprimerie 2 (2000): 1-16, especially 2-3, and 14. 56

were dismissed from theirteaching positions outside theBauhaus, such as Paul Renneror Jan Tschichold, who was forseveralweeks. Another imprisoned fact invalidating the "new typography" was the with the regime March 1936 which Kunst," poster for"Entartete mimickedthis kindof graphicdesign. Such artistic interactions of had plenty antecedents elsewhere. See the body of work of Peter Behrens forthe firm AEG at the beginning of the twentieth century. 57 See Kandinsky'sresponse to abstract art in Cahiers d'artl? (1931 ):350-353. See also Claude Mediavilla, Calligraphie (Paris, 1993),299-300, which include some cutting lineson Kandinsky.

58

See L?szl?Moholy-Nagy, "Zeitgem?sse Typographie?Ziele, Praxis,"Kritik, Hans Maria Wingler, (1925), cited in TheBauhaus (Cambridge/London: MIT Press, 1962, 2nd ed. 1968),80-81. Page 80: "The old incunabula, and even the first works, as well, made typographical effects ample use of the contrasting of color and form[...].Thewidespread process [...], application of the printing etc., have changed the vital,contrast-rich of the old printed works intothe layouts generallyquite monotonous grayof later books."

55

Foranyone interestedinthe Bauhaus, even nonprofessionals, it was quickly apparent that the year 1933would deal a fatalblow to the school?the members of theBauhaus, "cultural Bolsheviks" in the eyes of theNazis,were accused of concep propagatinga "Jewish-Marxist tionof art."Moreover, a numberof German graphicartistsand typographers

59

Roland Barthes, "Ert?ou A la lettre"in ?/t?(Parma: F.M.Ricci, 1972), 1231.

77 Design Issues: Volume 22, Number4 Autumn2006

sented the firstinvestigations toward developing a new alphabet."60 The typography and graphic design of theBauhaus, ifthey satisfied
a number very of internal on realizations or exterior commissions they were and were a part of influential their environment, Itwas of vision" and first of all, a matter

the desire renovation graphic

for experimentation.61 of "the design, language

of contributing

to the

after a century after wartime

of Victorian

after

Jugendstil,

propaganda.62

The Graphic design and typography also expressed the ideals of life. break with the past and the turn in favor of industrialization could
polemics. Isn't it astonishing, then, that this should have given rise

which, by definition,were subject to only yield nontraditional forms to a certain concept of "French" typography? But why did it take so long tobring to light rancor thathad never been purged?
Symptomatically, at an artistic, the virulence of that reception suggests that

the issues at stake go beyond simple questions of formor legibility;


hinting cultural, social, political, and/or

much more difficult to get around since typog background, which is


raphers in France often are guarded in expressing their opinions who interrogated unconscious on these matters; themselves on unlike members in of the Bauhaus, did

ideological

their role

go so faras to project the danger of dictatorship onto the Bauhaus? Why this fury? Why make an issue of the Bauhaus's pedagogical experiences? Why didn't they bring such charges against De Stijl
or constructivism?63 This is not a matter

society. Why

a collective

worn affliction,but of questioning this late tendency to project all theworst qualities on the typography of theBauhaus or on thenew

of delighting

in an

openly

typography. Is not the fearofwhat theDessau school provoked the best proof that something really important occurred? If this typog
raphy aroused such fear, is it not because of the foreign powers that

60 Arthur Cohen,HerbertBayer (Cambridge/ MIT Press, 1984),215. London: 61 und See HerbertBayer,"Typographie Werbsachengestaltung," Bauhaus 1 thata where he reported (1928): 10, was to do half in asked Frankfurt printer hiswork in"the styleof theBauhaus." 62 Ellen Lupton, J.AbbottMiller, TheABC's ofAD O; TheBauhaus and Design York:Thames and Theory(London/New and Hudson, 1993), 22. Fora different modernist analysis concerning enriching graphicdesign, the new use of typogra and the advertising phyand photography, work of theRing,see Jorge Fraseara of "A History of Design, a History Concerns" in GraphicDesign History, Steven Heller and GeorgetteBallance, AllworthPress, 2001), eds. (NewYork: 13-18;

Paul Jobling, David Crowley, Graphic Design: Reproductionand Representation since 1800(Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1996), 137 Modern Typography: 170; Robin Kinross, An Essay inCritical History (London: HyphenPress 1992),85-99: Maud Lavin, Clean New World: Culture,Politics, MA: TheMIT GraphicDesign (Cambridge, Press, 2001), 26-49.

63

Charles Peignot, "L'enseignement alle professionnel,"Vu (L'?nigme maw/ej213 (1982): 306,who made the same fineeulogy on thistopic to "the of the 1920s,whose Constructivists works are themost accom typographical plished ever seen."

78

Design Issues: Volume 22, Number4 Autumn2006

are held to be unwanted on French soil associated with them? It is us Tschichold was able to express possible, but let be prudent, forJan himself in the following terms in 1959: "To my great astonishment, most shocking parallels between the teachings of the I detected the new typography, national socialism, and fascism."64 This makes
things was more confusing of an than injured they otherwise man who, would seem. to go But this the reaction in 1933, had into exile

64

Cited inRuari McLean, Jan Tschichold: LundHumphries, Typographer(London: 1975, new ed. 1990), 69.

65

Glaube See Jan Tschichold, undWirklichkeit, 1946, cited in Monatsbl?tter/Revue Typographische 1 (1995): 9-16, Suisse de l'imprimerie especially 10: "The creatorsof theNew and the tendencies that Typography it embodiedwere, like me, resolute I enemies ofNazism [...] was, alongwith detention,' mywife, held in 'preventive of the so that is,prison,at the beginning called ThirdReich."

after losing his teaching post, being arrested, and imprisoned by


the Nazis.65 Is there yet another reason for the French reticence? Trans

missions
with

took place late and indirectly through and typographers from the Swiss school, beginning graphic artists from the Bauhaus
who Jean Widmer, arrived in France in 1953, after training at the

Zurich school then directed by Johannes Itten.66 Among them,Peter Keller and Rudi Meyer from the Basel school greatly contributed to the foundation and development of design knowledge directly
based on the avant-garde spirit, notably through their teaching at

66

Jean Widmer settled inFrance in 1953. If he knew Itten well, he also hadmet Max Bill,a Bauhaus pupil.See Jean Widmer,graphiste,un ?cologiste de l'image, Margo Rouard-Snowman,ed., at Centre catalogue of an exhibition Pompidou,Paris, 1995 and JeanWidmer, Maison du Livre, de (Villeurbanne:

Sup?rieure des Arts D?coratifs beginning in the 1960s. Through them, and perhaps for the first time,Central the ?cole Nationale
modernism in France.67 an important European curriculum sional level, of the As a interwar parallel period found a on place in the development took place the profes Adrian

collaboration

between

l'Imageet du Son, 1991). 67 As fortypography and graphiedesign, it seems thatnowide-ranging educational projectcan be found inFrance inthe first inspite of halfof the twentieth century, the roleof the postermakers. 68 69 AtelierNational de Cr?ation Originally Typographique(ANCT). Georges Bonnin'spreface to theANCT brochure of 1992. Georges Bonnin ranthe Nationale from1971 to 1983. Imprimerie Infact,a numberof Bauhaus students came from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, theScandinavian countries,theUnited America. When the States, and Latin was established inBerlin, it organization included168 pupils,ofwhom thirty-three were foreign. 71 JeromePeignot,De l'?criture ? la typog raphie (Paris:Gallimard, 1967), 104-106. 72 Maximilien Vox, "D?clin d'une h?r?sie" in Caract?re (1965), cited in Vox," RogerCh?telain, "Maximilien Monatsbl?tter/Revue Typographische 4 (1995): 2-3. Suisse de l'imprimerie 73 Charles Peignot, "L'enseignement profes sionnel," Vu (L'?nigme allemande)l\3 (1932):105.

Frutiger and theDeberny & Peignot foundry.There was a new line in teaching?in 1985 a National Institute forTypographic Research
was created,68 with of the mission techniques while The of and "[entering tendencies its name] that into the certain evolution characterize the great reoriented

contemporary French tradition

typography,

maintaining, establishment,

of course, rapidly

in this area."69

toward the transmission of Swiss typographic culture (thus linked to the spirit of theBauhaus) under thedirection of Peter Keller, was
open to the perspectives perspective; testified to the desire of historical an international for the cultural avant-gardes student interactions and presence to an inter nationalist since there has

70

characteristic

of the Bauhaus.70 It is a matter typographers was not of public a cause record that the arrival of the Swiss J?r?me

for rejoicing out

among

the French.

Peignot wrote, "It is not far from the spirit of Zurich to that of the
Bauhaus. to a single ingly [...] The idea theses worked [...]. One two knows chairs by the Bauhaus it is a [...] No can be reduced the result: of history. clumsy doubt, letter seem the Bauhaus

set between

designers have thought about it for a long time. Too long." (This was published by Gallimard in 1967 in the series "Id?es.")71 For
Maximilien Vox, "Swiss

of the spirit [...].The new version of thenew typography has failed


to meet again wrote: the goals that the first failed to achieve."72 J?r?me Peignot, the typography of the Bauhaus and of the Swiss, concerning "You do not imitate a it is yours or it is not."73 typography;

typography

[...] was,

in fact, a totalitarianism

?9 Design Issues: Volume 22, Number4 Autumn2006

Let us content ourselves with noting one or two vivid histori cal ironieshere. The first printing shop in France,which produced its first printed book in 1470,was run by "three Rhenish typographers (UlrichGering,Martin Crantz, and Michael Friburger?apparently of
and Swiss origin), summoned by the University of Paris."74

German

Arts France] praised it,evoking "the typographic work of themost


famous For his and part, influential R?my school of modern Jerome's times: the Bauhaus."76 the case Peignot, brother, made

Though more difficult to find,a positive late reception of the Bauhaus did occur. In 1960, an article in La France graphique [Graphic

Five centuries later,in 1972, the French foundriesDeberny & Peignot closed theirdoors, bought out by the Swiss foundryHaas.75

for

"that beauty, that purity which characterizes the graphic arts in Switzerland."77 The Peignot dynasty decidedly did not speak with
a single voice. Let us conclude with Charles, the father. In 1957,

he founded at Lausanne

of theBauhaus and French reserve, finally illuminating the interior of thatdark situation forus:
After many contacts and numerous conversations [with

(Association Typographique Internationale) [International Typographic Association]. Some lines fromhis pen in 1969 eloquently establish a linkbetween the action

theAtypI

Cassandre], each one of us influenced by the theories of


Kandinsky we and the spirit of the Dessau school, convinced

that typographic creation could also be refined or purified,


agreed to undertake break Bifur [...]. It caused in a milieu a somewhat that were partic scandalous in an art and

ularly traditionalist, [which] broke some taboos and had the


74 75 Guy Bechtel,Gutenberg (Paris:Fayard, 1992), 18. The Haas Foundry also boughttheOlive Marseille. Foundryin merit of liberating us.78

That was put very clearly,which reminds us that the typography


of the Bauhaus them or not?are and not the new typography?whether that some And have elsewhere. it killed one wanted advocates to make the monsters was

76 Walter Plata, "Typographie moderne alle mande," La Francegraphique 166 (1960): 8-14, especially 8. 77 R?myPeignot (1946), cited inRoger Ch?telain, "Le chantrede la 'graphie Monatsbl?tter/ latine,'"Typografische 4 (1995): Revue Suisse de l'imprimerie 4-5. 78 Charles Peignot, "Cassandre et la typog M?decine de France 198 (1969): raphie," 38.

of them.

The monster

the Bauhaus.

Had

thatnot happened,
posterity and

the school undoubtedly would have had


a more informed reception in France. The

a different

typography and graphic arts of theBauhaus embodied the ideals and members through theirsignificantformand beyond theutopias of its
their role relations human in the more language industrial fluid, which era: to create new spaces other. better conditions, to make to dream of to invent for life, and

is completely

Acknowledgment

The author would

like to thankAndy Stafford,Parry Jubert, Peter Keller, Isabelle Ewig and VictorMargolin.

80

Design Issues: Volume 22, Number4 Autumn2006