Specific Typeface Historical Classifications

jstnbrbr's picture

Hi, I'm need of some help in identifying 5 specific typefaces per each of the following categories (listed in CAPS). I've also listed typefaces I believe to fall under these categories. Could you help me round out my list? -- Or correct me if I have them mislabeled?

(See attached for the specific guidelines of these classifications I'm using)

RENAISSANCE:
bembo
hoefler text
arno
cardo
volkorn

BAROQUE:
garamond
georgia

NEOCLASSICAL:
caslon
baskerville

ROMANTIC:
didot
century
clarendon

REALIST:
gill sans
frutiger
univers
helvetica
trade gothic

GEOMETRIC MODERNIST:
futura
avant garde itc
avenir
century gothic
memphis

LYRICAL MODERNIST:
palatino
times roman

POSTMODERNIST:
archer

Thank you for your help!

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John Hudson's picture

Garamond is Renaissance (a category usefully divided into Italian and French), not Baroque, and Georgia is basically Neoclassical.

Caslon is Baroque. For more Baroque types, look at the Dutch 18th Century types of Fleischmann and Rosart.

In addition to Baskerville, Neoclassical types include Bulmer and Bell, and I'd be inclined to put Georgia in this category too. Walbaum is on the line between Neoclassical and Romantic, although most people class it with the latter.

Bodoni's types are Romantic. Century and Clarendon are better described as Victorian, I think, along with the varieties of Scotch Roman, but of course these come out of the Romantic tradition. Since you're including modern types in the various styles as well as originals of the period, e.g. Arno as renaissance, you could include Kepler among the Romantic types.

This has the look of a school project.

Nick Shinn's picture

The Bringhurst system links type design styles to broad cultural movements in the arts, organized in historical sequence. More phyllogenetic than taxonomic.

According to that precept, it misses out the large Historicist movement from 1900 to 1930, during which type revivals and designs in historical genres predominated, especially in the Anglosphere. Examples:

Cloister: Morris Benton’s facsimilic revival of Jenson’s 15th century design.
Kennerley; Frederic Goudy’s pastiche of the Garalde.

hrant's picture

Not much to add to John's critique and suggestions, but include Kis and maybe Jannon with Fleischmann. For Postmodern (the toughest one) I might feature Legato, Turnip, Fenland, Satura and the Olympics font* (and remove Archer, sorry).

* http://typographica.org/on-typography/a-fruitful-discomfort-the-face-of-...

BTW do make sure you give formal credit to Typophile (and ideally this actual thread) as needed.

hhp

charles ellertson's picture

On type classification see

http://typophile.com/node/84598

* * *

Lyrical Modernism? Only to the strange folk at

http://www.dhub.org/a-short-history-of-typography/

charles ellertson's picture

On type classification see

http://typophile.com/node/84598

* * *

Lyrical Modernism? Only to the strange folk at

http://www.dhub.org/a-short-history-of-typography/

John Hudson's picture

Hrant, post-modernism is mostly associated with a kind of filtered engagement with history, and is most often applied to a kind of fractured movement in art, architecture and criticism that is essentially over. I wouldn't classify any recent type designs as post-modernist, and certainly not Legato or Fenland.

Good suggestion of Kis for the Baroque category, though.

Jannon's types are tricky: they're transitional between the French renaissance style and the Baroque that flowers in the Netherlands. Mannerist?

BTW, a case can be made for considering some Fleischmann and Rosart types are representative of the Rococo sub-category of Baroque.

jstnbrbr's picture

Thanks so much everyone! Really appreciate the help.

@John Hudson - Yes, school project. Requires us to create stereotypical letters of each style, so I just wanted to make sure my research was correct before going ahead with everything. Thanks for your detailed reply!

@hrant - Thanks for the suggestions. Will be sure to credit in the appropriate way.

@oldnick - You see the problem I was having with google research methods, haha.

Again, thank you for your efforts everyone.

hrant's picture

John, I still haven't decided what Postmodernism is. Maybe it's -still- too early? At least for me.

What I actually tried to do initially is figure out Justin's framework for including Archer in there, so I could follow that. I couldn't. So I figured to ask: what kind of typeface goes beyond all the ones Modernism uses? I don't think that's only things like Univers. But I'm not sure I made sense either - especially since Bloemsma for example actually considered himself a Modernist...

hhp

John Hudson's picture

figure out Justin's framework for including Archer in there

I try to avoid postmodernism as a category, in part because it is by its own nature fragmented and without clear edges, but I can imagine classing Archer in this way because of its interpretative stance to 19th Century slab serifs. But then one would have to put virtually all recent fonts with any historical reference into the same grabbag.

I think Evert Bloemsma was very much a modernist, of a particular kind (my favourite, nonconformist kind), in his interest in functional methodology and lack of satisfaction with any merely stylistic innovation. While some modernists rejected serifs because they didn't correspond to a 'modern style', Evert worried about serifs and wanted to know why they might be there and how they might function (leading ultimately to FF Avance).

hrant's picture

I think the key to Postmodernism might be the embracing of uncertainty (something Modernism is too superficial to grasp).

hhp

John Hudson's picture

something Modernism is too superficial to grasp

I think your grasp of modernism is too superficial. Modernism is a large and complex matrix of cultural phenomena, some of them apparently at odds with each other in every respect except a sense of being responses to modernity. Modernism manages to encompass both critical engagement and ideological prejudice, and everything from the most formally gridded layout of high international style to the almost painfully disfocused paintings of my beloved David Jones (now there's uncertainty).

Postmodernism can also also, of course, be read as a response to modernity, although characterised by a contrary stance, be it irony, decadence or reaction, and in that most perfect of postmodern phenomenon, the Taliban.

hrant's picture

Of course no two people will agree 100% on any single thing. I try to define things so I can talk about them practically, while accepting the inescapable imperfection of that/any approach*. To me this is deep, not superficial. So: I define Modernism as believing in and seeking Control.

* Which is why I'm a Postmodernist. :-)

hhp

John Hudson's picture

I define Modernism as believing in and seeking Control.

Which describes pretty well said Taliban, whom I classify as postmodernist because they pursue a filtered engagement with the past to produce a new reality that never existed in that past.

Your definition of modernism simply doesn't hold with the range of phenomena to which that term is normally applied. So in what way does this enable talking practically about anything? Have you not noticed that in all these years you've never managed to have a successful conversation with anyone on the subject of modernism? All you've ever achieved is exactly this kind of wrangle over terminology. The actual phenomena of modernism always escape your discussions.

It's not as if we're a million miles apart in terms of criticism of particular modes of modernism, of particular phenomenon within modernism. If you want to say 'There are kinds of modernism that evidence an obsession with control and with uncritical certainty', I'll agree wholeheartedly. But there are also kinds of modernism that are cautious, nonconformist, analytical and even defensive of the past.

I am far from being a modernist, but further still from being a postmodernist. As I said, the stances of postmodernism to the past are all in varying ways contrary. At its best, postmodernism proceeds from an honest appraisal of the difficulty of having any kind of sympathetic relationship to history, but all to often it sinks into ironical poses, and mere stylistic cherrypicking.

oldnick's picture

I wouldn't classify any recent type designs as post-modernist

Perhaps not, but we’re post-postmodernist now; witness the typeface chosen for the London Olympic Games just past…

there are also kinds of modernism that are cautious, nonconformist, analytical and even defensive of the past.

And? I think, rather, or—“nonconformist” and “reactionary” (defensive of the past) are apples and oranges, usually…

hrant's picture

Have you not noticed that in all these years you've never managed to have a successful conversation with anyone on the subject of modernism?

Maybe they're too defensive?

I am far from being a modernist

They all say that. :-)

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Nick, 'defensive of the past' doesn't imply reactionary to me. Reactionary politics generally focus on maintaining existing power structures or providing (pseudo)historical justifications for new power structures, which actually involves disengagement from the past insofar as such politics discourage questioning of how the existing power structures came about, what alternatives existed in the past, what kind of opposition existed, etc.. Hence the etymology of the word 'radical', in questioning the roots of existing structures.

Reactionaries are perfectly capable of being postmodernist, as the Taliban demonstrate, although they generally don't recognise and certainly don't acknowledge their postmodernism. To construct a fantasy of a past that you intend to 'restore' is not to be defensive of the past.
_____

Hrant: Maybe they're too defensive?

Maybe they've been brainwashed by shape-shifting lizards. But, really, what is more likely?

You pick up a term that has common usages and refers to a complex set of phenomena, and you redefine it for yourself to mean something incredibly blunt and simplistic, in a way that really only permits agreement or disagreement, and then you accuse other people of being defensive when rather than agreeing or disagreeing they question your appropriation of the term in this way. The irony, of course, is that your use of the term modernism in this way is itself over-certain and controlling, disallowing nuance and the uncertainty that must allow the possibility that you are wrong.

hrant's picture

I don't disallow nuance. Nuance permeates everything. But progress is based on clarity, and there is clarity to be had by trying to figure out the essence of something (and that's as Modernist as I want to get :-). And I would immediately counter that with a Postmodern expression: I know I'm Wrong; or at least, I know I can't be Right. I'm an Agnostic through and through.

If I can manage, I'll try to relate all this to the practice of designing type. What I'll put forth somewhat casually though is this: it's hard to know how and how much to "let go"; that's why virtually all Postmodern type is so junky (unusable for text). But there are exceptions, such as Fedra.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

The archetypal Postmodern typeface is P. Scott Makela’s Dead History, 1990.
He used a strategy already common in postmodern architecture, mashing up two or more established styles—in this case specific typefaces, Linotype Centennial and VAG Rounded.

At the time, Postmodernism and Deconstruction were part of a new movemement in the graphic arts.
If you try to identify Postmodern typefaces independently of such movements, purely on physical characteristics, you run into trouble, because so many types would fit the description, for instance display types of the 19th century such as the Caslon Italian of 1821, clearly a deconstruction of the Didone/Modern style:

hrant's picture

You see to me that Italian for example is strictly Modernist, because it follows a precise method to modify the original design.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Nick: If you try to identify Postmodern typefaces independently of such movements, purely on physical characteristics, you run into trouble...

Indeed. That's why I find the postmodern classification mostly unhelpful except for a handful of works, such as Makela's Dead History, whose association with postmodernism is explicit in the intent of the designers. Intentionality plays a bigger role in postmodernism than in most previous cultural movements, which can be identified by stylistic characteristics; this is why there tended to be a strong conceptual component to postmodern art.

oldnick's picture

Nick, 'defensive of the past' doesn't imply reactionary to me.

As I am sure it would not, given that you insist that the Taliban are postmodernists. Au contaire, mon frère: the Taliban are most assuredly pre-modernist, pre-industrial, pre-Enlightenment, pre-Renaissance—in other words, staunch seventh-centuryists.

And, really: while Bodoni is classified as a modern style, historically it’s simply a misnomer (although, stylistically it is not). As T. S. Eliot pointed out:

These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo’s mad againe.
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.

Modernism, essentially, deals with a world in which God is dead (so said Fred) . The Great War, the War to End All Wars (along with the Bolshevik Revolution) killed off the last of the significant Divine-Right monarchies (we still allow them to exist, of course, in places like Saudi Arabia, where it’s convenient for us). Eliot examined the world with words in the same way that Picasso and Braque examined it in cubist planes—fragmented, isolated, incoherent without a center…

John Hudson's picture

Nick: ...the Taliban are most assuredly pre-modernist, pre-industrial, pre-Enlightenment, pre-Renaissance—in other words, staunch seventh-centuryists.

These are the things that the Taliban want to believe that they are: restorers of a pure past. But the past was never pure, and in pursuit of their goals the Taliban use surface-to-air missiles, automatic assault rifles, and mobile phones. The other thing they use that never existed in the past they think they are trying to restore is totalitarian politics. Pre-modern and pre-industrial life does exist in Afghanistan, but it has nothing to do with the Taliban: it subsists at the local level, in complex social relationships of tribe, clan and family. The organisation of the Taliban, by contrast, is that of a modern militant revolutionary movement. I call the Taliban postmodern because they construct a filtered fantasy of the past in reaction against an inescapable modernity, one that they must embrace in order to be effective. I call some of my ultra traditionalist Catholic friends postmodern for the same reason; they don't like it either.

On the origins of modernism, you and I seem to be mostly in agreement.

oldnick's picture

John,

Aha: I see. Fair enough…

PabloImpallari's picture

Move Hoefler Text somewhere in between Caslon and Baskerville, and include Requiem in the Renaissance category instead.

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