Hyphen Press, London. 2007. 335 pp. 4:o (27,5 x 21 cm). Hardback. 700 colour pictures.
The central part of the book is made up of three chapters. First, a description of Tschichold’s typography in the years 1925–33, with a depiction of his extensive contacts with avant-garde designers across Europe. After this, an interlude describes Tschichold’s detention in 1933 by the Nazis. The second long chapter discusses Tschichold’s engagement in his modernist period with letterforms as such (calligraphy, typefaces) and his book-design work. The last chapter looks at Tschichold after his emigration to Switzerland: his ‘serene modernism’ and turn to traditionalist design. The book is prefaced with a short essay by Robin Kinross, discussing Tschichold’s present reputation. It is rounded off with a selection of key texts by Tschichold (in English translation for the first time), a bibliography, and index.
In the first book on Tschichold to be based on extensive archive research, Burke turns fresh and revealing light on his subject. He sets Tschichold in the network of artists and designers who constituted New Typography in its moment of definition and exploration, and puts new emphasis on Tschichold as an activist collector, editor and writer. Tschichold’s work is shown in colour throughout, in freshly made photographs of examples drawn from public and private collections. This is not a biography, but rather a discussion of the work seen in the context of Tschichold’s life and the times in which he lived.