Claeys’ work with his peers in fashion separates hormonally-charged concepts from formal warmth with surgical precision. Matter-of-fact romanticism, if there were such a thing.
Born in Austria in 1882, Victor Hammer—a typographer, painter, sculptor and printer—spent his early years in an apprenticeship under the architect and painter Camillo Sitte. Hammer later transferred to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna where he began to cast and cut his own type. In 1921, Hammer produced his first type design—Hammer Uncial—that aimed to “fuse roman and black letter into a new unity.” This led to his eventual move to Florence, Italy where he set up his own printing press—Stamperia del Santuccio.
Hammer accepted a post as a professor back in Vienna in 1936, but fled the country a few years later in 1939, immigrating to the U.S. to escape the war. After a lengthy teaching position in New York, Hammer spent his retirement as an artist-in-residence at Transylvania University in Lexington, KY where he established a traditional printing press and continued to refine his Uncial type. Though Hammer practiced book craftmanship in the old-world style and seemed to have side-stepped the burgeoning modernist revolutions; his spare, considered layouts and often reductionist approach offers a warm alternative to the usual 20th Century minimalisms. There is certainly much in his work to be admired.
“Since printing is essentially a means of multiplying, it must not only be good in itself–but be good for a common purpose. The wider that purpose, the stricter are the limitations imposed upon the printer. He may try an experiment in a tract printed in an edition of 50 copies, but he shows little common sense if he experiments to the same degree in the tract having a run of 50,000. Again, a novelty, fitly introduced into a 16-page pamphlet, will be highly undesirable in a 160-page book. It is of the essence of typography and of the nature of the printed book qua book, that it perform a public service. For single or individual purpose there remains the manuscript, the codex; so there is something ridiculous in the unique copy of a printed book, though the number of copies printed may justifiably be limited when a book is the medium of typographical experiment. It is always desirable that experiments be made, and it is a pity that such “laboratory” pieces are so limited in number and in courage. Typography to-day does not so much need Inspiration or Revival as Investigation.”
Stanley Morison from First Principles of Typography, 1936
“Black and White is a very minimalist art form and unlike color photographs does not pretend to mimic the world in a manner similar to the way the human eye might perceive. Black and White is essentially an abstract way to interpret and transform what one might refer to as reality.”
Shanghai-based designer Tang Shipeng studied as a scientist in Beijing and brings a precise eye to his typography and layout. His most recent work definitely deserves a second look.