Frantisek Marek [Editor]: TYPOGRAFIA [Technical Journal of Czechoslovak Printers]. Prague: Typografia Association, 1933. Original edition [Volume 40, No. 8, August 1933]. Text in Czech. Letterpress-scored thick wrappers. Stitched signatures. Wrappers printed in one color. Textblock is tight and secure. A near fine minus copy with minor shelf wear. Includes five one-sided inserts -- examples of contemporary Czech typography/design/advertising. Interior unmarked and clean. Cover by A. Hering.
Technical Journal of Czechoslovak Printers
Frantisek Marek [Editor]
9.25 x 12.25 [23.5 x 31.1 cm] saddle-stitched journal with 24 pages of period typographic designs and advertising. Editorial Committee  consisted of V. Ambrosi, J. Dyntar, R. Hala, J. Hejl, A. Hering, St. Marso, F. Masek, V. Masek, J. Pisa, A. Stehno, J. Vanicek and J. Vichnar.
Contents [somewhat translated from Czechoslovakian]:
- Fototypografie: Applied photography in modern typography by Karel Teige [9 pages with 10 b/w illustrations including work by Jan Tschichold, Karel Teige, G. Klucis, John Heartfield, George Trump, Werner Graff and Cesar Pomela]
- Technical articles on printing
- Vintage advertisements and more.
Because of location and history, Prague has long been a crossroads for various intellectual, religious and artistic currents. Cohabitation by Czech, German and Jewish communities created an inspirational cultural environment during the decade that began in 1910. Albert Einstein lectured at Prague's German university for three semesters; his stay overlapped with the blossoming of Czech cubism -- the most characteristic manifestation of the pre-war Avant-Garde in Prague. Prague received Picasso and Braque like nowhere else; Cubism there affected not only fine art but also the practical arts and even architecture. Art historian Vincenc Kramar referred, in his 1921 book KUBISMUS, to the essential relationship of the new art to "the transformation of our idea of the world, as reflected in Einstein's theory and in the studies of the fourth dimension."
Prague became the capital of independent Czechoslavakia after the fall of the Hapsburg monarchy in October 1918 and quickly became a magnet for the propagators of the great radical artistic movements of the era, including such ISMs as Dadaism and Futurism.
Avant-Garde activity in 1920s Prague was concentrated around the art group Devetsil, founded in October 1920 by Karel Teige. The Devetsil artists produced poetry and illustration, but they also made contributions to other art forms, including sculpture, film and even calligraphy. The first Devetsil manifesto formed the basis of Poeticism by urging new artists to look deeper into ordinary objects for poetic quality.
"In photomontage and typophoto the present day has a new type of writing and a visual language . . . Only through many experiments will we learn to use this new means of communication, this new way of writing. With it, we will be able to write new truths and new poetry." To Teige every aspect of modern life contained poetic value. Especially the new visual language made possible by technological advances in photographic reproduction, printing and typesetting. Teige understood the importance of reproduction as both a means and an end to artistic expression -- revolution could just as easily spring from a type case as from a rifled gun barrel.
Jan Tschichold's principal claim for the New Typography was that it was characteristic of the modern age. Writing at a time when many new mass produced products appeared on the market, his intention was to bring typography into line with these other manifestations of industrial culture. Similar to the Russian Constructivists, Tschichold lauded the engineer whose work is marked by "economy, precision," and the "use of pure constructional forms that correspond to the functions of the object."
Tschichold strongly believed in the Zeitgeist argument -- that each age creates its own uniquely appropriate forms. That belief allowed him to formulate a set of principles for his time and reject all prior work, regardless of its quality. One of the characteristics of the modern age for Tschichold was speed. He felt that printing must facilitate a quicker and more efficient mode of reading. Whereas the aim of the older typography was beauty, New Typography's purpose was clarity.
Prague's inter-war Zeitgeist was admirably captured in the pages of 'Typografia: The Technical Journal of Czechoslovak Printers.' The past and future intermingled in woodcuts and photography, Expressionism and Cubism, calligraphy and typesetting -- a rich mixture that burned brightly until the lights went out all over Europe.
Spreads from this volume can be viewed here.
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