Rene Wanner's Poster Page


front cover HELVETICA - Homage to a typeface
Edited by Lars Mueller, published by Lars Mueller Publishers, Baden (CH) (Sep 2002); 256 pages, 13 x 16 cm, 800 color illustrations; hardcover; ISBN 3-907044-87-8; in english; Euro 26.00 (US$ 30.00)

"This book sings the praises of the shift worker and solo entertainer of typefaces, of its forgotten creator Max Miedinger and all those who have contributed to its unparalleled international march of triumph over the past forty years."

Lars Mueller just loves Helvetica, and so do many other people. Wolfgang Weingart hates this world famous typeface, created in Basel in 1956 by a lowly typesetter and font salesman, but sometimes hate is just another form of love ? Paul Rand reportedly said that it was alright in titles, but looked like dogshit when used in text. What about you? Do you think, Helvetica is an everyday workhorse, goodlooking but without character ? Read what Ralph Schraivogel has to say about this point of view.

All this, and much more, like the subtle differences between Helvetica and Arial, I learned from this little book which scouts the world for Helvetica, and displays the bounty in 800 pictures of street signs, bookjackets, bumperstickers, corporate logos, T-shirts and of course posters:

1958, Emil Ruder 1984, Gianni Bortolotti 1991, Alan Fletcher

Some of the quotes that are randomly distributed throughout the book :
  • Helvetica - the epitome of ugliness / Wolfgang Weingart

  • The Helvetica Medium lower case "a" in the original foundry and linotype is the most beautiful two dimensional form ever designed.. / Katherine McCoy

  • It amazes me how many people have an opinion about Helvetica who couldn't pick it out of a type lineup if their reputation depended on it / Douglas Wadden

  • Some years ago a young intern in our New York office, when looking at an old map where Switzerland was named Helvetia, said "Fancy naming a country after a typeface" / Colin Forbes

  • Helvetica is the perfume of the city / Lars Mueller

And in my humble opinion, this book is a precious bottle of perfume, destined to become a cult object.

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