Garamond And Baskerville : Typography As Art Essay

Garamond And Baskerville : Typography As Art Essay

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Paul Rutan III
Art 461
Critical Review #1
September 26, 2014



Garamond and Baskerville: Typography as Art


The advent of the moveable type by Johan Gutenberg in 1455 marked the first step towards transforming Western civilization from a predominantly illiterate culture into one of universal literacy. The rapid spread of the printed word brought new ideas and philosophies that brought Europe into the modern world. Printing with moveable type served as the catalyst for the Renaissance, Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution. Simply put, it could be argued that typography is the most important inventions in Western Civilization’s history. (Meggs, 68)

A typographer is one who prints using small movable wooden or metal pieces that have alphabet characters on them. Johan Gutenberg may have created typography, however it took several generations of typographers to perfect his craft. Claude Garamond and John Baskerville are two typographers that have advanced the art of typography. (Macmillan, 6) This paper will be discussing the life and times of these type designers and how their innovations pushed typography towards the dynamic art form it is today.

Claude Garamond (1480-1561) was a French type founder at the leading edge of the French Renaissance. He trained as a type designer under the Estienne family. The Estiennes were the dominant force in French printing during the 16th century. Their collaboration with Garamond along with the woodblock illustrations of Geoffrey Tory was instrumental in creating the first known international style for book design. (Meggs, 113) The French style, as it is called, replaced the old blocky Gothic book aesthetic in favor of a lighter more open design that focuse...


... middle of paper ...


...c ideals of the Enlightenment. Together these two men link all of the major innovations in typography since Gutenberg’s letterpress. Even though their eras were guided by starkly contrasting philosophical ideologies they had one very important thing in common. They both had the desire to elevate the art of typographic letterform to high art. The fact that their work is still relevant today clearly illustrates that they have achieved this goal.


Works cited:

Meggs, Philip, and Alston Purvis. Meggs History of Graphic Design. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, Inc, 2012. Print

Dodd. From Gutenberg to Opentype. North America: Hartley and Mark Publisher’s, Inc, 2006. Print

“Claude Garamond” 23 September 2014. http://linotype.com/

”Baskerville” 23 September 2014. http://myfont.com/

Macmillan. ”An A_Z OF Type Designers. North America: Yale University Press. 2006.Print.

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