A Master Designer: Ismar David zal

gohebrew's picture

Master Type Designer: Isamar David zal

typerror's picture

Finally something we agree on Scott. Well sort of, he was first and foremost a calligrapher as evidenced by his book Our Calligraphic Heritage. But that is splitting hairs. And his sculpture was phenomenal.

William Berkson's picture

I agree with Michael—I like that calligraphy better than his font :)

gohebrew's picture

Michael,

>> his book Our Calligraphic Heritage

Where can I find it?

>> ... his sculpture was phenomenal.

Please explain.

Bill,

Did you see his book of fonts, "The Hebrew Letter".

Tzvi Narkis and Eli Koren reach his ankles.

William Berkson's picture

Israel, no I haven't seen that book. Do you have a link or a sample? I was talking about the Hebrew font, "David".

gohebrew's picture

The Hebrew Letter by Ismar David

gohebrew's picture

Bill,

He created many font designs. Only "David" was created into a computer font. I created another called "Ismar", based upon this sample.

gohebrew's picture

Bill,

This book is from about 18 years ago. It's out of print, and never was scanned and placed online for eternity.

Years ago, I bought it when it fist came out. Years later I bought it again. I've moved a few times since, and do not find my copy.

Ari Davidow sent me his copy to borrow. I got it today. I intend to create a dozen designs of his, with bold versions, nikkud and taam too.

Everyone pales by comparison. Ismar David zal was the greater known Hebrew type designer.

gohebrew's picture

Bill,

Isn't the modern version of David much greater than the early popular David.

gohebrew's picture

Do we now if he was married?
If yes, what was his wife's name?
Children? What were their names?
What were his parents' names?
Siblings' names?

gohebrew's picture

Another beautiful face, better than David Hebrew.

typerror's picture

Our Calligraphic Heritage is a boxed set that he produced at Geyer Studio in 1979. It is comprised of 17 historical exemplars with notes, 17 exquisite calligraphic compositions and a writing booklet. It is one of my most prized books.

As to the sculpture, see pages 72-82 of the book you have.

I adore his "even-stroke aleph-bet" on page 64.

typerror's picture

I will find out some history... it is dim in my brain at this point but I believe he migrated from Germany, through Israel to New York. Bob Boyajian will know, he knew him.

typerror's picture

My brain isn't as old as I expected... here you go:

http://rogallery.com/David_Ismar/david-biography.html

and:
http://calligraphyheritage.com/och_samples/index.html
These are the calligraphic compositions that I spoke of.

Also:
http://typophile.com/node/16512

gohebrew's picture

Thank you.

Who is Bob Boyajian?

>> I adore his "even-stroke aleph-bet" on page 64.

Multiple weights, too.

gohebrew's picture

from:

Ismar David, German/Israeli/American (1910 - 1996)

... and on June 3rd of that year, married Hortense Mendel. Ismar had met
Hortense, an associate of Robert Leslie at the Composing Room, during
his 1951 trip to New York to show Intertype hisHebrew alphabets.
The two spent six years together before Hortense died on October 9, 1960.

The whole article:

Ismar David, German/Israeli/American (1910 - 1996)

Ismar David, considered one of the few graphic designers, illustrators, and calligraphers of international reputation, was a
German-born graphic artist who practiced the first third of his
professional career in Jerusalem and the remainder in New
York City. He is noted for his brilliant work in Hebrew and
Latin calligraphy, lettering, and type design, as well as for his
distinctive linear style of illustration.David liked to say that the
hand is the most marvelous tool if properly trained, and his
own handwork supports this conviction.

Ismar David was born in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw,
Poland) on August 27, 1910. At the age of fourteen, he left
school to apprentice as a house painter and varnisher. After
receiving his journeyman papers, however, he returned to
study decorative painting at the Arts & Crafts School of Berlin-
Charlottenberg, where many of the finest book craftsmen of
the first part of the century taught and studied.Hans Orlowski
and Johannes Boeland were among his teachers.

In 1932, at the age of twenty-one, Ismar David entered and won
an international competition sponsored by the Jewish National
Fund for the design of its honorary Golden Book. He traveled
to Jerusalem to supervise the execution of the project, and he
settled there for the next twenty years and established a studio
for interior and graphic design. In addition to receiving a
broad range of commissions from private industry, David
accepted commissions from national institutions and the state
government for design projects including posters, postage
stamps, and currency.
During his residence in Jerusalem, Ismar David made one of
his most important contributions to twentieth century graphic
design with the conception and development of an innovative
family of Hebrew typefaces. His interest in developing Hebrew
types that would be in harmony with the modern spirit and
that would help to transform Hebrew into an everyday
language eventually lead to David Hebrew. This unshaded and
unserifed type design was cast for machine composition in
1954 by the Intertype Corporation and was later available on
the Photon machine. In 1984 the Stempel type foundry
commissioned David to rerender David Hebrew with diacritical
marks for digital composition. To this day David Hebrew is
widely used and much copied. The light appearance of David
Hebrew makes it well suited for setting poetry. It is also favored
for use in exhibition catalogs, finely printed books, and Israeli
newspaper supplements.

Before moving permanently to the United States, Ismar David
made several visits to New York City.His first trip, in 1939, was
to work on the Palestine Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair.
In 1947, he traveled to New York to study printing methods.
With the help of Dr. Robert Leslie, he returned in 1951 to make
arrangements with the Intertype Corporation for the casting of
David Hebrew. And finally in 1952, David visited New York to
design and install an industrial exhibition for Bonds for Israel.
Ismar David emigrated to the United States in 1953, and on
June 3rd of that year, married Hortense Mendel. Ismar had met
Hortense, an associate of Robert Leslie at the Composing
Room, during his 1951 trip to New York to show Intertype hisHebrew alphabets. The two spent six years together before
Hortense died on October 9, 1960.

Upon his arrival in New York City in 1953, Ismar David established
a design studio and began teaching Latin calligraphy at
Cooper Union and Pratt Institute. He had expected the bulk of
his commissions to come from designing decorative elements
for synagogues, however, he found his mainstay work in the
1950’s, 60’s, and early 70’s in the publishing industry. David
worked steadily as a designer for leading American publishers
including Alfred A. Knopf; Atlantic, Little Brown; Ballantine
Books; Fleming H. Revell; Harper & Row; Harry Abrams;
Houghton Mifflin Company; J.B. Lippincott Company; McGraw-
Hill; Pocket Books; Random House; Thomas Y. Crowell; and
Viking Press, among others. In a short span, he designed book
jackets or covers for more than 200 books.

Ismar David remained a free-lance artist throughout his career.
In addition to steady work in cover design, calligraphy, and
lettering, Ismar David earned commissions for book illustration
and developed the style of illustration for which he is best
remembered—a style characterized by striking patterns of
lines. This distinctive linear style was particularly well suited
for the Limited Edition Club’s 1971 publication of Pascal’s Les
Pensées, for which David created a dozen full-page, hypnotic
color-illustrations—pre-separated in the tradition of printmaking—
as well as ornamental tailpieces, and text frames. As
would become his custom, Ismar’s conceptions in vivid
oranges, greens, purples, blues, and golds were meant to
accompany the thoughts of the author, not to illustrate them literally.His 58 illustrations for the Union of American Hebrew
Congregation’s 1973 bilingual edition of The Psalms followed
the same non-literal approach. For this project, which David
considered his most personal work, he combined his ideas
about illustration and type and book design, and his efforts
were recognized by The American Institute of Graphic Arts
(AIGA) with a 1973 “Fifty Books of the Year”distinction. Both
Les Pensées and The Psalms proved to be very popular among
collectors, and they stand as two of his best efforts in book
illustration.

Though he never lost interest in graphics, much of David’s
energy in the latter part of his career was devoted to architectural
design and decoration. Perhaps his most important work
in this field was produced during a thirty-year association with
Pinelawn Memorial Park in Farmingdale, NY. Beginning in
1965, he planned the layout of the park, including fountains and
other features; he also designed mausoleums and other
building complexes, and their interiors. He also lettered
numerous inscriptions for wall decorations and architectural
features in the park.

Proof of Ismar David’s uninterrupted
connection with graphics came in 1991, when in collaboration
with calligrapher and partner Helen Brandshaft, he designed
and illustrated a bilingual version of The Book of Jonah,
published by the Chiswick Press in a limited edition.
Teaching was another constant element in Ismar David’s career.
In addition to instructing at the Cooper Union and Pratt
Institute, he gave lectures and conducted workshops on Latin
and Hebrew calligraphy over the years. Eventually he distilled his well-tested teaching materials and summarized his views on the historical, aesthetic, and technical aspects of the Latin alphabet into Our Calligraphic Heritage: The Geyer Studio Writing Book. The three-part work of text, alphabet folders, and
compositions, encased in a box designed to function as an
easel, was published in a limited edition in 1979 by the Geyer
Studio—a professional calligraphy studio for whom David
worked as a contractor from the late 1960’s through the early
1980’s. Ismar produced the Hebrew counterpart to Our
Calligraphic Heritage with the 1990 publication of The Hebrew
Letter: Calligraphic Variations. This instructional work
includes a text and alphabet charts, and is a writing book in the
tradition of European writing books. In both works, David
fuses the rich historical background of the calligraphic arts
with practical and aesthetic aspects of the art of writing in the
twentieth century.

In the early 1990s, Ismar David continued to take on select
commissions for graphic design; however, he also expressed his
personal interest in three-dimensional form with the creation
of such objects as a folding baby cradle and a paper Elijah’s cup
and folding seder plate. Before he died on February 26, 1996, in
New York City, Ismar David produced his 1996 greeting card—
the last in a forty-odd-year series that traces the evolution of
his lettering and illustration styles, and the constant influence
of biblical themes.

typerror's picture

Bob was a lettering "guy" on Madison Avenue for decades. In touch with many of the lettering artists and type designers in New York. It was literally a band of brothers :-)

Ismar was a giant as you are now discovering!

William Berkson's picture

These books look fabulous. I've got to have a peak at them at the Library of Congress some time...

typerror's picture

William... David Pankow at RIT produced at RIT that is still available. I think it is 30$. Definitely recommended!

gohebrew's picture

Who owns his intellectual property works?
he and wife are deceased.
no kids.
no copyright notices.

i think gohebrew should print an ebook/pod on him.

whadya think?

gohebrew's picture

Michael,

Is Bob still around? Where?

Is David still running the Type library at RIT in Rochester, NY?

gohebrew's picture

Yotam,

Thank you.

typerror's picture

I thought his second wife was still alive. But alas she is not.

"Who owns his intellectual property works?
he and wife are deceased.
no kids.
no copyright notices."

To be honest you are starting to sound like a vulture!

William Berkson's picture

Michael, what is the title of the Plankow book you are referring to?

typerror's picture

David Pankow is the head of the Cary Library. They were the publishers of the book about Ismar. The images were chosen by his partner I believe. It is available through the RIT website William. You can go on the site and order.

Enjoy.

typerror's picture

Sorry. The book is : The Work of Ismar David.

gohebrew's picture

Michael,

I think a vulture picks his food from the ground.

Anyway, I want to let people view his works at places like Barnes and Noble, and not just at the Library of Congress.

Is publicizing the work of a giant vulture feed?

typerror's picture

William, his 3 dimensional stuff is in the second book mentioned. I saw his "Remember the 6,000,000" many years ago and was stunned at its beauty.

typerror's picture

Not publishing his work, but your expressed desire to digitize his letter designs when you would be the one to benefit.

typerror's picture

Where a vulture "picks his food" is not relevant. Just make sure there is no one who has a concern in that endeavor. I spoke with him when I wanted to use his even-weight letters for a printed piece I did. I would probably bypass it were it now, because there is noone to ask. Out of respect for him.

gohebrew's picture

William,

I do not understand you. Say it clearly.

If it's money to which you refer, Ismar's stuff won't make a bundle, or even half a bundle.

But there should be some books out, for whoever wants the stuff, it's there.

About his fonts, if 10 or more are digitized, I think he'd be proud.

Am I wrong, or a money-hungry capitalist?

gohebrew's picture

Jerusalem

Typograph's picture

> Tzvi Narkis and Eli Koren reach his ankles.

A. I disagree
B. why compare between Itamar David with Zvi Narkiss or Eliyahu Koren
they all were great designers.
Zvi Narkiss in considered to be the Father of modern hebrew.

gohebrew's picture

they all were great designers.

c. i agree

>> Zvi Narkiss in considered to be the Father of modern hebrew.

by taking narkis tam from a concentration camp victim.
i hope he did tsuva.

i consider him a great designer. but not the greatest.

Typograph's picture

> by taking narkis tam from a concentration camp victim.
> i hope he did tsuva.

You should realy stop talking L'shon Ho'rah about people

> i consider him a great designer. but not the greatest.

You know, who was a greater designer, is children talk and realy makes no difference.

gohebrew's picture

>> Zvi Narkiss in considered to be the Father of modern hebrew.

avak d'lashon hora

it wasn't ankle. it was dirt under his feet.

baba sali zatzal described the late lubavitcher rebbe:
he is like the nesher hagadol
(this means: the great eagle, an allusion to maimonides),
and WE are like zevuvim flies buzzing around.

>>>

> i consider him a great designer. but not the greatest.

You know, who was a greater designer, is children talk and realy makes no difference.

<<<

i think it's a shame that ismar david of manhattan is not yet recognized as the great modern hebrew type designer - way ahead of everyone else.

gohebrew's picture

why is this lashon hora?

> by taking narkis tam from a concentration camp victim.

when we say that robin hood stole..., that's lashon hora.

gohebrew's picture

The Beginnning of the Revival

gohebrew's picture

Invitation

raphaelfreeman's picture

The book is available. Somebody from work just bought it only last week!

According to Shmuel Gutman z"l, he told me that Ismar David was happy for people to copy and/or change his font, so there are no copyright issues here.

This is of course hearsay from a person who is no longer alive but it looks like that there is no copyright on this typeface.

I also know that there is no copyright on Hadasa either. This I know from a recent legal ruling.

Typograph's picture

> also know that there is no copyright on Hadasa either. This I know from a recent legal ruling.

From last week???

raphaelfreeman's picture

no. before that. not sure the exact date, but I was only told about it recently.

Typograph's picture

If so, what's the debate between masterfont and Henri's grand doughter????

raphaelfreeman's picture

off line.

gohebrew's picture

>> I also know that there is no copyright on Hadasa either. This I know from a recent legal ruling.

HHenri Friedlaender returned to me a roalty check that I sent to him in the mid-eighties. He explained that the Amsterdam type foundry bought the intellectual ptoperty rights.

According to halacha Jewish law, zchus hayotzer the creator's ownership is inherited by his or her descendants forever.

Hence, I asked Michael about his wife and children. Perhaps, it reverts to his parents and siblings, or even next of kind.

Typograph's picture

>According to halacha Jewish law, zchus hayotzer the creator's ownership is inherited >by his or her descendants forever.

According to the Halacha there is no such thing as "Zchus hayotzer" at all

gohebrew's picture

Eli,

It is called sometimes "Zchus hayotzim", or "Zchus hamechaber".

There are only two thin books published on the topic.

One book, with a dark blue cover, was published by a now defunct publishing house, "Machon L'Ohalei Shem" in the nineties. The other book is much older, with a gold cover. I think its called: "Zchus hayotzim".

Very few rabbis are expert is this topic, which is like why you think that it does not exist. Fewer can rule on this matter.

The famed Tzemach Tzedek rule of this matter over two hundred years ago. No one since then has refuted his views about "Zchus hayotzim". He delineates 5 factors that can earn worldide exclusivity forever.

This responsa is published in Hebrew in two other books, "Chidushei Tzemack Tzedek Al Hashas", with commentaries, pp. 78-??, by "Machon L'Ohalei Shem", 1992, and "Chidushei Tzemack Tzedek Al Hashas" by Kehos (in print).

raphaelfreeman's picture

So does that mean you'll be sending royalty checks to Koren's children on your Crown font? :-)

gohebrew's picture

Raphael,

We haven't established true ownership.

But from your point of view, KP bought all rights.

Did KP buy the rights to his Tanach, and to the font he used to produce it only, or to every font created from derivations of its drawings?

raphaelfreeman's picture

That is a legal question. I am not a lawyer so I can't comment whether it's legal for you to copy Koren or not.

However, since you have stated publicly on this forum and verbally on the phone to me about 3.5 years ago, that you would pay the children of Koren for your Crown font, this means that you publictly admit that your Crown font is a copy of the Koren typeface and that somebody in the Koren "family" deserves royalties on the typeface. Your only contention is who should receive the money – Koren's descendants or the company that owns the rights to the font.

I guess the question is, is the Crown font vaguely influenced by Koren, or is it a copy. I think that most people on this expert forum on type would agree that your image is very much Koren and would be considered a copy.

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