Neo-Grotesque Typfaces

squirrelization's picture

I'm working on a timeline for san serif typfaces for school. I'm having a hard time finding ones for Neo-Grotesque, could you please help. Thanks.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

If you count the neo grotesque genre as distinct from the grotesques, Univers and Helvetica are the first/most important. I sometimes think a neo grotesque is a grotesque drawn with the same mindset as Futura.

hrant's picture

I think Univers and Unica nicely cover the Neo-Grot spectrum.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

This term is rather like Transitional.
It is a convenience invented to describe how a popular and influential typeface informs the historical narrative, but as a genre there were few members at the time.

i.e. transitional = Baskerville, neo-grotesque = Helvetica, Univers and Folio.

hrant's picture

I think Helvetica and Folio are Grotesque. Otherwise, what is?

hhp

Martin Silvertant's picture

I'm a bit fuzzy on the details, but from past research I concluded there are actually virtually no Grotesque typefaces in use today. There weren't many, and only a few have been digitized. Akzidenz Grotesk is a grotesque. Helvetica and Folio neo-grotesque typefaces.

As far as I'm aware—and strangely enough—the distinction is in design date and not in design. Also note that slab serifs were initially considered grotesques as well. As "grotesque" referred to the ugliness of these typefaces at the time, it seems to have been a very wide style initially.

Nick, what do you mean with your statement? I wrote down some criticism but I first want to make sure I'm understanding you correctly.

Nick Shinn's picture

Transitional and neo-grotesque are “phylogenetic” terms, created to explain certain historical narratives, in particular the idea that typefaces evolve.

Another method of classifying typefaces is “taxonomic”, based on physical attributes, e.g. the PANOSE system.

Martin Silvertant's picture

I'm still not sure I understand you correctly, but let's try it. It seems you're implying neo-grotesque came about to distinguish between two time periods while stylistically they're the same, but this contrasts largely with transitional, which is quite a major deviation from garalde stylistically. So how is the term neo-grotesque like the term transitional?

Nick Shinn's picture

No, what I’m saying is that historians wanted to explain where Helvetica and Univers came from, as the type genre favored by the modernist international style, but could not term them revivals, because that was too old-fashioned. By adding the prefix “neo-” they preserved the idea of historical continuity.

Similarly, when historians wanted to classify Baskerville, they noted that it formed a bridge between the old style (e.g. Caslon) and the didone (e.g. Bodoni), so they named it transitional.

So the issue with these categories is to disentangle whether one is referring to the physical appearance of a typeface, or where it fits chronologically.

Headliners International (the North American phototypositor type house franchise) named a small x-height genre of its versions of the classics “Neo-Mini-”, e.g. Neo-Mini-Garamond, c.1980.

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