Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blue Pencil no. 12—Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig

Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig
Steven Heller and Elaine Lustig Cohen
San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 20010

Book design by Tamar Cohen

This is not the usual Blue Pencil post. The book examined here has very few errors, whether typographical or factual. Most of the commentary is about its lack of context. Although most of Lustig’s career took place during the Great Depression and World War II these momentous events are ignored. I was unaware of this lacuna until I came to p. 151 and the photograph of the Roteron helicopter designed by Lustig in 1945. Suddenly, I wondered if the war was behind the impetus to design the helicopter. And then I realized how fortunate Lustig was throughout his career in his patrons and clients.

[Regarding the Roteron helicopter other sources say that William H. Thomas, engineer and owner of the company, was its designer. Thomas studied helicopter aerodynamics at the University of Southern California at the beginning of World War II and founded his company in 1943. See the March 1946 issue of Popular Mechanics (available on Google Books), the obituary for Thomas in the Los Angeles Times (12 March 1995) and these websites
The information on the latter website comes from Helicopters and Autogyros of the World by P. Lambermont (1958). To appreciate the Roteron look at the other helicopters from the 1940s on the same website.]

The other missing context in the book is the narrower one of American graphic design during the period 1930–1955. Throughout the book the shadow of Paul Rand, the most famous American designer of the 1940s and 1950s, hovers over the story. Lustig is constantly being measured against him (pp. 11, 16, 34, 87, 92, 191) but there is never any in-depth comparison of the two men’s work or design philosophy. Here are the most detailed references:

p. 16 “By the late ’40s… he [Lustig] was certainly on par with Paul Rand, Saul Bass, Herbert Matter, Will Burtin and others in the design pantheon of American Modernism.”

p. 34 “Other contemporary American designers from the late ’30s and into the early ’60s were similarly inspired [by the twentieth century European avant-garde]—E. McKnight Kauffer, Paul Rand, George Giusti, and Leo Lionni established models for modern book jacket and cover design.”

p. 87 “Although not as prominent as Paul Rand in the advertising universe, Lustig was an inventive advertising designer.”

p. 92 “Lustig’s ads are reminiscent of those designed by Paul Rand, Lester Beall, Leo Lionni, Alexey Brodovitch, and Erik Nitsche, but they are not imitations. They were often more spare or playful in a painterly way.”

p. 191 re: Lustig’s articles on graphic design “On the graphic design side, fewer designers were publishing. Paul Rand was an exception with Thoughts on Design, published by Wittenborn in 1947….”

Although Lustig is described as being influenced by European avant-garde design there are no detailed discussions of exactly which designers, design movements or design works.

p. 22 “Where did he [Lustig] acquire this aptitude, talent, and expertise?” re: May 1933 cover of Touring Topics, the magazine of the Automobile Club of Southern California (see illustration on p. 23).

[This is a question that really applies to Lustig’s work in general, especially his early works. The authors make no attempt to find work that might have influenced Lustig. This is true not only of his early career but of his entire career. Lustig is treated as a genius sui generis.]

p. 25 “In 1933, he also enrolled in a printing class with Richard Hoffmann, a fine-press printer….”

[Richard Hoffmann, a Los Angeles (Van Nuys) private press printer, published A Decorative Divertissement in 1980. It is a showing of the decorative material from Linotype and Monotype (metal) that he had accumulated over many decades. Along with the classical ornaments by Robert Granjon and the modern ones by W.A. Dwiggins are Art Deco or moderne elements (see especially p. 76). Could Hoffmann have played a role in sparking Lustig’s interest in designing with type case material?

pp. 29–30 “These signature type case constructions [see pp. 26, 2

8 and 29; and pp. 34–49], while reminiscent of earlier Russian Constructivist compositions, were decidedly novel in the arena of ornamental designs being done in the United States.”

[This is not entirely true. See the work that Albert Schiller of Advertising Agencies’ Service Co., Inc. in New York City was doing from 1924 on. (See “Typographic Pictures: How an insert was composed, and something about silhouette ornaments as a basis for lettering and design” by Albert Schiller in The American Printer (December 1927) which comments on an AAS insert in the September 1927 issue, “Typosignets: The Work of Albert Schiller” by Harold B. Waite in the Gutenberg-Jahrbuch for 1952 and Admittedly, Schiller’s “pictorial” images using type material are kitschy in comparison with Lustig’s abstract designs, but they show the possibilities inherent in the material. In Germany Georg Goedecker, Ernst Aufseeser and Wilhelm Wörner were using geometric type ornaments to create stylized figures and other designs that are closer in spirit to Lustig’s. Their work was reproduced in Gebrauchsgraphik where it is possible that Lustig may have seen it since the magazine was sold in the United

States. Some of this work is reproduced in Advertising Art in the Art Deco Style selected by Theodore Menten (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1975): figs. 201–212 and 220-221 for Goedecker (profiled in Gebrauchsgraphik June 1929); figs. 213–219,242-243 for Aufseeser (Gebrauchsgraphik December 1932); and fig. 235 for Wörner (Gebrauchsgraphik September 1930).]

[This image is of Interchangeable Type Borders from the Bauer Type Foundry of Frankfurt. Bauer had a New York office and alongside selling Futura and Bauer Bodoni they sold type material like this. Could Lustig have been using their geometric elements? Perhaps he discovered them when he went to order Futura type? Futura seemed to be his favorite typeface, showing up in his work from the beginning to the end. The author’s never comment on this. Yet, Lustig was not alone among American modernists to have a fondness for Futura (e.g. see the work of Paul Rand and Bradbury Thompson). This is one thing that separates them from their European counterparts who prefer Akzidenz Grotesk and other industrial sans serifs.]

p. 31 “Since his studio was not large enough to allow him to pull proofs, he worked out a deal with the printing instructor at Beverly Hills High School to use its letterpress in return for designing commencement programs using his metal type ornamental method—these programs were doubtless unmatched by any other high school in the United States.”

[This is untrue. Many American high schools had letterpress print shops in the decades before 1960. They provided essential vocational training for one of the leading industries in the country. An advertisement in Industrial-Arts Magazine (vols. 3–4, 1915), p. viii by Barnhart Brothers & Spindler, the Chicago typefoundry, says, “The number of school printing outfits is rapidly growing. Everyone recognizes the educational effect of a printing outfit in a school.” It then goes on to list printshops in schools in Indiana (Terre Haute, Mishiwaka, South Bend, Indianapolis), Illinois (Oak Park, Winnetka), Washington (Bellingham, Monroe, Ellisburg), Iowa (Goldfield, Sioux City), Wisconsin (Racine), Kansas (Salina), New York (Niagara Falls, New York City, Westchester County, Brooklyn), Missouri (St. Louis), Nebraska (Omaha, Genna, Lincoln), South Dakota (Pine Ridge), Texas (El Paso, Austin), and New Jersey (Skillman, Newark, Park Ridge, Trenton, Asbury Park, Jersey City, Montclair). In 1915 printing was offered at Washington High School in Manhattan. In 1925, the New York School of Printing was established as a special high school for the industry. It is now the High School of Graphic Communication Arts.]

p. 34 “When he began designing book jackets in the late 1930s, Alvin Lustig retained as much overall control as possible, which was not at all the standard operating procedure in the publishing industry. Jacket designers were not usually afforded much freedom; their role was often an afterthought.…

“The designer of the text pages and binding was rarely the designer of the jacket—purists celebrated the former as a craftsman, while the latter was disparaged as a ‘commercial artist,’ or advertising hack.”

[Lustig was not unique in this. W.A. Dwiggins, George Salter and Ernst Reichl retained near complete control over the jackets they did. And all three designed interiors as well.]

p. 35 “Euclid A New Type, late 1930s.”

[There should be a green dot between this caption and the one above.]

[These two images are not discussed in the text and the caption only describes them as “type experiments”. In fact they are experiments along the lines of the Kombinationsschrift aus Glas alphabet that Josef Albers designed in 1931. See pp. 184–185 in Das A und O des Bauhauses edited by Ute Brüning (Berlin: Bauhaus Archiv and Edition Leipzig, 1995.]

[Did Lustig use this “alphabet” for the masthead of Arts & Architecture magazine in 1948? See the two covers on p. 80.]

p. 37 “His [Lustig’s] inspirations were the rule-breaking typographers who literally turned pieces of lead upside down to make intaglio impressions. The upstart Dadaists used stock printers’ ‘cuts’ in their ad hoc compositions, and the revolutionary Russian Constructivists made the most of limited typographic availability by building letters and geometric ornament out of type case ‘furniture.’… The Dutch typographer H.N. Werkman, who published a small typographic journal called The Next Call, made what he called ‘drucksels,’ which combined with wood and metal letterforms with metal typesetting furniture.”

[This is the usual litany of avant garde typographic figures, but none of them seems relevant to Lustig. His work, despite Heller’s reluctance to use the term, is more Art Deco and perhaps that is where we should search for examples that may have inspired him in his early years. It is likely that he was reading The American Printer, The Studio, Gebrauchsgraphik and perhaps even Arts et Metiers Graphiques. He may have been aware of the publicity material that Douglas McMurtrie designed for Ludlow Typograph’s range of Art Deco fonts (Ultra Modern, Stygian Black, Stellar). Either Ward Ritchie or Jake Zeitlin may have introduced him to the work of W.A. Dwiggins, though his decorative designs were created using stencils rather than type case material. Even the Art Deco architecture of 1920s and 1930s Los Angeles (e.g. the Eastern Columbia Building, 1930, or Bullocks Wilshire, 1929) may have provided inspiration.]

p. 39 Robinson’s 58, late 1930s. / Cover, purpose unknown.”

[This was probably designed for J.W. Robinson’s, a “carriage trade” Los Angeles department store. What the 58 stands for I have no idea.]

[Note the Futura Black/Display-like r made of type material.]

p. 40 “To announce and pay for the book [Ghost in the Underblows], Lustig designed an elaborate twelve-page prospectus containing testimonials and a ‘plea’ for sponsors to contribute funds. The responses, including this from the poet William Everson, were triumphant: ‘You get the conception of an infinitely sensitive and intelligent man laying his ear to the earth and writing verbatim every delicate response and flux that twitches his being.’”

[Heller’s implication is that Everson is complimenting Lustig on his design when in fact it is more likely that his praise is for Alfred Young Fisher, the poet who wrote the book.]

p. 41 “Typographic experiment, late 1930s. / A progressive sequence of letterpress impressions.”

[These are not shown in the sequence in which they were likely made. The large image at top (the book eschews numbers for the images) is the final print while the two smaller ones below are stages leading to it. The one at the left with black was probably the first of them. Unfortunately, all three are reproduced at different scales so that matching them up properly is difficult.]

pp. 42–49 images

[Heller makes no mention of the fact that many of Lustig’s typecase experiments/works seem indicative of the Art Moderne or machine age art that characterized the 1930s in America. For instance, the double-page title of Ghost in the Underblows suggests a streamlined locomotive such as the 1931 Locomotive no. 1 designed by Norman Bel Geddes; and two of the Beverly Hills High School commencement covers suggest carburetors, pistons, cam shafts and—in one instance—electrical wiring. Lustig’s double-page design is also evocative of contemporary modern architecture such as Richard Neutra’s Lovell House, 1929.]

p. 43 “Lustig used geometric typecase shapes to create the abstract designs [re: interior of Ghost in the Underblows]. The process was arduous, but the results were unique in American book design.”

[The abstract designs are truly amazing, but how did they relate to the poem—“a means of padding out the text” p. 40 does not fully tell the story—and what was the reaction in the printing and design world? It would have been nice if Heller and Tamar Cohen would have provided a detailed analysis of one of Lustig’s typecase designs. An explanation of exactly what went into their making—as these must be very foreign to contemporary readers and designers—with diagrams showing the different elements and print runs would have been illuminating. Ghost in the Underblows was called “another pretension to the great American poem” by John Hay in Poetry (vol. 57, no. 6 March 1941 pp. 391). The online snippet of the review does not mention Lustig’s contribution. Kevin Starr, author of Material Dreams: Southern California through the 1920s (Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 379, says that Fisher worked on the “massive poem” throughout the 1930s and that The Ghost in the Underblows was only a fragment that Ritchie convinced him to publish. The book, subsidized by Dr. Elmer Belt, “fizzled”. “Despite advance testimonials from Robinson Jeffers and William Everson,” writes Starr, “and a lengthy, somewhat overwrought introduction by [Lawrence] Powell… The Ghost in the Underblows earned one regional review, then receded from sight.” And, “…his poem rumbled and roared sonorously—but with an obscurity that even academic commentators found impassable.” See for some context of the images on pp. 44–45 (that is, the verso side of the spreads the designs come from, e.g. The Dying Phoenix or Through a Glass Darkly). They are set in Futura naturally.)

p.47 “Printed on a yellow background, the blue-gray decorative slugs, the bold red arrow, and the sans serif typography offer no clue whatsoever to the content of the book [The Wisdom of the Heart by Henry Miller].”

[But see the image on p. 49 and it is clear that the cover suggests two breasts and that the arrow can be interpreted as a penis or as Cupid’s, thus giving the design an erotic element. Perhaps Lustig did not read the book and assumed the book, in keeping with Miller’s reputation, was erotic in content instead of being a collection of essays. As a sidenote, it is worth mentioning that Ivan Chermayeff, who worked with Lustig, did a jacket for this book for New Directions in 1960. His design replaces the head of a man with a heart. See

p. 47 “Media, A Design and Production Center, early 1940s.”

[In the image the text says, “Alvin Lustig and Allison McNay announce the formation of MEDIA, a design and production center.…” Who is Allison McNay? She appears nowhere in the biography, not even in the caption to the image. A little bit of online sleuthing revealed that Allison McNay was a member of the Curriculum Division, Los Angeles City Schools in in 1948 and that she was the co-author with Ruth Quinn of Classroom Radio Production (1948). See the article (only partially available on Google Books) by Franklin Fearing in Hollywood Quarterly vol. 3, no. 4 1948 summer, pp. 456–459. The McNay and Quinn book is not viewable on Google Books. Perhaps Lustig met McNay while at Beverly Hills High School and later joined with her because she had media expertise he lacked. Whatever happened to the partnership?]

p. 49 Rounce and Coffin Club, 1940. / Invitation for the 500th anniversary of the invention of printing.”

[The caption is wrong. The invitation is actually for a meeting to discuss plans to display the exhibition on the 500th anniversary of printing—which was prepared by AIGA members on the East Coast in collaboration with the New York Public Library (with a logo designed by W.A. Dwiggins)—not an invitation to the exhibition itself.]

p. 50 “Lustig seldom relied on literal solutions [for his New Directions jackets]. HIs method was to read a manuscript to get the feel of the ‘author’s creative drive,’ then restate it in his own graphic terms.”

[This was the same method used by several other jacket designers such as George Salter, though the results were very different. Lustig’s jackets fit into Salter’s no. 6 category (as written in 1939): “Pictorial design that elicits the atmosphere of the book while not necessarily depicting concrete or realistic scenes. This category is the most suggestive and stylistically abstract, and often includes symbolic or psychological imagery.” Quoted from Classic Book Jackets: The Design Legacy of George Salter by Thomas S. Hansen (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2005), p. 12. Lustig’s work may also fit into category no. 5: “Pictorial design that suggests the atmosphere of a book by depicting specific details of its contents. Here the lettering supplements or explains the imagery.” For some of Salter’s work that is in these two categories see Schacht, Hitler’s Magician (1939), no. 120 in Hansen; The Tower of Babel (1947), no. 142, Dr. Faustus (1948), no. 143, and See How They Run (1951), no. 158. It should be noted that Salter liked Lustig’s work and included it in his teaching at Cooper Union (along with the work of Paul Rand and Ladislav Sutnar.)]

p. 55 “New Classics succeeded in the marketplace and also in the history of design for its ingenuity where other popular literary series, such as the Modern Library and Everyman’s Library, failed, because of inconsistent art direction or dreary design.”

[Heller is right about the quality of jacket design for the Modern Library, but not about its popularity. Despite its jackets it remained a standard into the 1960s. For images that support his judgement of the quality of Modern Library jackets see and

In 1955 Modern Library began issuing its books in paperback as well as hardcover.]

[Where did Lustig’s love of scripts come from and why did he use them in his designs? They are a signature—no pun intended—part of his aesthetic. See:

in The New Classics series from New Directions:

p. 50 A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (1944) and Three Tales by Gustave Flaubert (1945) p. 54 The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West (1949)

p. 55 The Wanderer by Alain Fournier (1948)

p. 56 Amerika by Franz Kafka (1945)

p. 60 The Spoils of Poynton by Henry James (1944)

[The captions provide book title and date but not author. These have to be deduced from looking at the images.]

p. 72 Three Tragedies by Gabriel Garcia Lorca (1948)

p. 89 Anatomy for Interior Designers (1946)

p. 92 advertisement for New Directions (1945)

p. 95 advertisement for H.G. Knoll (1944–1945)

p. 96 Ninth Graphic Arts Production Yearbook (1950)

[Lustig’s use of script was not unique. Paul Rand and Alex Steinweiss were also turning to it in many of their designs during the same period. For Rand see Paul Rand by Steven Heller (London: Phaidon Press Limited, 1999), pp. 26–30, 58, 66, 73, 75, 81, 98, 99, 101, 103, 106–107, 109–110, 115–116, 123, 173 and 187—but, oddly enough, never for any of his childrens books. For Steinweiss see For the Record: The Life and Work of Alex Steinweiss by Jennifer McKnight-Tronitz and Alex Steinweiss (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2000), pp. 35, 64–65 (Steinweiss Scrawl alphabet), 73, 99, 100, 106–108, 114–116, 118–120, 123–124, 126–129, 136 and 144. Heller has written about the Steinweiss Scrawl in Eye 76

I suspect script—meaning handwriting or casual writing not the scripts of a lettering professional—were a means of making modern designs more accessible to the average person, of making them friendlier. This, like the ubiquitous use of Futura by these designers (Rand and Steinweiss and Bradbury Thompson as well as Lustig), is another visual trait that distinguishes American modernism from its European counterpart. It should be noted that Lustig seems to have deliberately avoided Futura in his Meridian book covers 1954–1955 (pp. 116–119) done at the end of his life.]

[Lustig’s use of Futura is distinguished by a preference for setting text in lowercase only in many of his designs (see pp. 50–53, 56–57, 60, 64–65, 77–79 and 93–95. Was Lustig influenced by the arguments and work of Herbert Bayer?]

p. 61 “…the English critic C.F.O. Clarke…focused entirely on Lustig’s book work. ‘[They] were originally his private symbols, fruits of his own esoteric vision,’ he wrote. ‘The task, as he [Lustig] conceived it, was to find a series of symbols that could rapidly summarize the spirit of each book and give it an appropriate visual form.’”

[Lustig’s covers for New Directions remain fascinating and cryptic because of his use of private symbols—though several are fairly transparent such as the dollar sign for The Great Gatsby (p. 60), the labyrinth for The Longest Journey (p. 53) or the barbed wire for Poems by Wilfred Owen, the British poet who died in World War I. But what neither Clarke nor Heller investigates is where Lustig may have gotten his symbols, what influences there may have been on him. Freudian psychology? Jungian? Anthroposophy? African art? One common trait is the use of pictograms (see Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre p. 53, A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh p. 56, The Man Who Died by D.H. Lawrence p. 59 or Exiles by James Joyce p. 60). The one cover that Heller does discuss in detail is the famous Three Tragedies by Lorca (see p. 62).]

p. 70 “On the whole, Laughlin was duly respectful of Lustig’s choices.”

[Heller details Laughlin’s (and his staff’s) reactions to Lustig’s often enigmatic cover designs for the New Directions books, but says nothing about contemporary reaction—if there is any to be found. Did book reviewers mention the covers? Did the authors themselves say anything? Dwiggins and Salter both got feedback—usually positive but not always—from authors about their covers. See correspondence in the Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. archives at the University of Texas.]

pp. 62 and 63 “The Makers of Modern Literature and Directions Series, 1940s.”

[The bold type in the caption on p. 63 referring to p. 62 is misleading since there are two distinct series being shown: 1. The Makers of Modern Literature; and 2. Directions. Two of the covers share the same image, a stylized hand holding a pen with a pointed nib. This image is reminiscent of the work of Karl Schulpig (1884–1948) for the BDG (Bund Deutscher Gebrauchsgraphiker) c. 1924: a stylized hand in a circle holding a pencil. See A Treasury of German Trademarks vol. 1: 1850–1925 by Leslie Cabarga (New York: Art Direction Book Company, 1982), opposite title page and on front cover.]

p. 69 “He worked hand-in-glove with photographers, who executed his vision for the first time (paying them $25 a photograph, and cosigning the work with them).”

[This refers to Lustig’s covers for the Modern Reader series of books from New Directions. The photographers—George Barrows (see The Confessions of Zeno, p. 68), J. Connor (only an initial) (see Death on the Installment Plan, p. 74) and Quigley (no first name given) (see Journey to the End of the Night, p. 70)—are not discussed. They were important enough to Lustig that he signed their names with his on the covers. But who were they? How did they meet up with Lustig? Were they just carrying out his vision or were they collaborating on the design? Barrows is mentioned in Art in Our Time: A Chronicle of the

Museum of Modern Art

by Harriet Schoenholz Bee and Michelle Elligott (New York:

Museum of Modern, 2004) in the footnote to p. 120. MoMA apparently has some of his photos.

There is also a lead online that suggests Barrow was associated with Frank Lloyd Wright at one

time. Perhaps Lustig met him during his brief stay at Taliesen East.]

[Lustig’s 1946 Ski Alta catalogue cover (p. 78) is reminiscent of the early 1930s work of Herbert Matter such as the cover of TM foto 5 (1933) p. 92, the cover of SVZ Revue no. 1 (1934) p. 55 or the brochure for Gebr. Fretz AG (1934) p. 58. See Herbert Matter: Foto-Graphiker: Sehformen der Zeit: Das Werk der zwanziger und dreissiger Jahre by Markus Britschgi and Adrian Bättig (Baden: Verlag Lars Müller, 1995.]

[Lustig’s Paramount chair (1949, Paramount Furniture) (p. 152) is reminiscent of the 1941 plywood armchair by Eeron Saarinen and Charles Eames for Haskelite Corp. and Heywood Wakefield Co. See Charles and Ray Eames: Designers of the Twentieth Century by Pat Kirkham (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: The MIT Press, 1998), pp. 207–210 and Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future by Eero Saarinen, Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen, Donald Albrecht (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006). Its metal rod frame, though, is like those on the Eames dining and lounging chairs (initially made in 1946 with wooden legs).

There is a reference to Lustig’s admiration for the chairs of Eames and Harry Bertoia on p. 160.]

[Lustig’s floating furniture (desks, bookcases, cabinets) (pp. 128–139) are reminiscent of the architecture of Richard Neutra (the Lovell House, 1927–1929) and Frank Lloyd Wright (Fallingwater 1935–1936); and the desks by Donald Deskey (1929) (fig. 8.11, p. 282), Gilbert Rohde (8.61, p. 312) and Frank Lloyd Wright (Steelcase 1935–1939) (fig. 8.58, p. 311)

The references above are to pages and images in The Machine Age in America 1918–1941 by Richard Guy Wilson, Dianne H. Pilgrim and Dickran Tashjian (New York: Harry Abrams and the Brooklyn Museum, 1986).]

Sunday, January 23, 2011

From the Archives no. 13—Frederic Goudy

Recently I was looking through back issues of The New Yorker online in order to “Glorifier of the Alphabet”, a profile of Frederic W. Goudy written by Milton MacKaye and published in the January 14, 1933 issue. I thought it might contain some information on the famous but vexatious quotation about stealing sheep attributed to Goudy. There is much dispute online over the exact wording of the quotation and what, specifically, Goudy was complaining about: spacing lowercase type, spacing italic type, spacing blackletter or spacing lowercase blackletter. Was he likening such activity to stealing sheep, shagging sheep or fucking sheep. The profile said nothing about this topic.

“At thirty years of age he was an obscure bookkeeper fresh out of a job…. Today, at sixty-seven, he is the greatest type-designer in the world….,” wrote MacKaye in the 1933 profile. If this were not proof enough of Goudy’s fame beyond the narrow confines of the worlds of design, printing and type, then two other brief references to Goudy in The New Yorker certainly are.

In The Talk of the Town for September 22, 1934 (p. 15) it says: “Typographical Note: Mr. Frederic Goudy has designed a special type for Saks Fifth Avenue, to be called Saks Goudy. Macy ads will hereafter be set in Cheltenham Bold—neat but not Goudy.” Typographic humor.

In The Talk of the Town for October 6, 1934 (p. 15) it says: “Courage-of-Convictions Note: In Pirie MacDonald’s window on Fifth Avenue there is a picture of Mr. Goudy and a sign telling of his marvellous [sic] achievements in type design. The text is set in Cooper Black.” Someone at The New Yorker knew their type. Pirie MacDonald (1867–1942) was a portrait photographer who focused on portraits of men of achievement. Among his sitters were Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Antoine Lumiére. Goudy was in good company.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Blue Pencil no. 11 addendum

R. Roger Remington and Robert S.R. Fripp, the authors of Design and Science: The Life and Work of Will Burtin, expend a lot of effort to prove that Will Burtin was responsible for the popularity of Helvetica in the United States. In Blue Pencil no. 11 I challenged the evidence they presented in support of this claim. Here I want to put forth a counter-claim: that Massimo Vignelli is the individual who deserves credit (or blame)—if anyone does—for the spread of Helvetica in this country. This is a claim that Vignelli himself has made himself and one that deserves to be taken seriously.

Helvetica was not available in the United States in the early 1960s because of technical differences between American and European type. In 1963 German Linotype began shipping Helvetica matrices to the United States but they could only be used on American machines with special adjustments. That problem was solved in early 1965 when Mergenthaler Linotype in Brooklyn began manufacturing Helvetica matrices for the domestic market. (The 10 pt size was ready as early as February 1964.) At the same time D. Stempel AG exported foundry type Helvetica that was milled to American height*.

Massimo Vignelli moved to the United States from Milano, Italy at the end of 1965 to take control of the New York office of Unimark International. One of the things he brought with him was a passion for Helvetica which was quickly adopted by the other Unimark principals. Jan Conradi, author of Unimark: The Design of Business and the Business of Design, writes, “Unimark’s work on identity, signage and wayfinding systems relied heavily on Helvetica.” (p. 146). The typeface was an essential element of its philosophy. As Conradi quotes Ralph Eckerstrom, the firm’s CEO, “So we decided we were going to clean up U.S. communications. We were going to simplify the message by simplifying the type.” (p. 146)

“Less experienced designers [than Harri Boller who preferred Univers] soon learned that their company’s leaders were serious about the clarity and serviceability of Helvetica. Any decision to explore other options was not taken lightly. ‘It was a tougher fight within the company than it was with the clients,’ said Ron Coates. ‘At the time I didn’t understand, but I understand now that to people like Jay [Doblin], that was what set the mark of the company. To change it had to be absolutely like we were attacking a religion.’ Steve Eckerstrom agreed. ‘To Massimo Vignelli, and to Jay Doblin, Helvetica was really the platonic ideal.’” (Unimark: The Design of Business and the Business of Design, p. 149).

Unimark subsequently specified Helvetica as the corporate typeface for the following companies and institutions between 1966 and 1979, the year that the firm (excluding its Milano office) closed down: American Airlines (p. 160), Knoll International (p. 173, Ford Motor Company (pp. 158–159), Varian Medical Systems, J.C. Penney (pp. 119-120, 186–188), Dayton Corporation (Target), Panasonic (pp. 83), Memorex (pp. 167-168, 227), Gillette (p. 145), educational publisher Scott Foresman, Alcoa (p. 84), Teledyne, Great Western United (a sugar producer) (p. 105), the Denver Public Library (p. 107), Denver General Hospital, Standard Oil of Indiana, Trans Union (p. 176), Frontier Airlines (p. 162), Colorado’s Regional Transportation District (p. 161), Xerox (p. 174), Central National Bank (p. 181), office equipment manufacturer Corry Jamestown (p. 182), New Orleans department store Maison Blanche (p. 190), Mercy Medical Center in Chicago (p. 193), furniture manufacturer Wickes (p. 205), and Ecodyne (pp. 206–207). This is only a partial list. The page numbers in parentheses indicate images in Unimark: The Design of Business and the Business of Design that show Helvetica in use for these companies. Dot Zero, the design magazine published by Unimark and sponsored by paper manufacturer Finch Pruyn & Co., Inc. from 1966 to 1968, was edited and designed by Vignelli. It was set in Helvetica.

Vignelli himself was directly responsible for the use of Helvetica by American Airlines (1981: p. 6; 1990: pp. 33, 82), Knoll International (1981: pp. 9, 38-39; 1990: pp. 36-38, 160), Heller (the housewares company) (1981: p. 13), the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (for the 1972 subway map, but not for the signage) (1981: p. 20, 1990: p. 95), the Washington Metro signage (1981: p. 22; 1990: p. 97), the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts (1981: pp. 48–49; 1990: pp. 184–185), the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (1990: pp. 40-41), and the United States National Park Service (1990: pp. 44–45) in the 1960s and 1970s. (The page references are to design: Vignelli (1981) and design: Vignelli (1990).) Many of these companies and institutions were clients he acquired after he left Unimark to set up Vignelli Associates with his wife Lella in 1971.

Vignelli was one of the five members of the committee that oversaw the creation of Symbol Signs: The System of Passenger/Pedestrian Oriented Symbols Developed for the U.S. Department of Transportation by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (New York: Visual Communication Books, Hastings House, Publishers, 1981). The book was set entirely in Helvetica.

Between 1966 and 1981 Massimo Vignelli was clearly the most influential figure behind the popularity of Helvetica in the United States. He was not the only major designer who used the face as soon as it became available in 1965—Arnold Saks and Muriel Cooper were early adopters—but his work and that of his colleagues at Unimark affected a wider swath of American business, culture and government.

*Visual Graphics Corporation (VGC) began marketing a Helvetica-clone (called TH-2) for typositor use early in 1965. By 1973 they were selling an official film version of Helvetica. Mergenthaler Linotype issued its first Linofilm Helvetica fonts in 1967. Monotype did not make Helvetica available for Monotype and Monophoto machines until late 1971. The history of Helvetica in transfer type is less clear. In 1968 Artype offered a version but so far I have no information as to when Letraset, Presstype or Mecanorma did.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blue Pencil no. 11—Design and Science: The Life and Work of Will Burtin

Design and Science: The Life and Work of Will Burtin
R. Roger Remington and Robert S.P. Fripp
Aldershot, Hampshire: Lund Humphries, 2007

Designed by Chrissie Charlton & Company

[fi ligatures not used; Monotype Bulmer, the typeface used, has them]

fig. 1, p. 12 “Kristallspiegelglas” not translated

[paragraphs not indented but set apart by line spaces; makes reading the text very choppy]

p. 13 repetitious phrase: “dismal years” (2nd paragraph) and “dismal decades” (5th paragraph)

p. 14 “At the age of 14 he [Burtin] enrolled in a grueling four-year apprenticeship in typography—Schriftsetzer Handwerk—at the Handwerkskammer Köln.” The apprenticeship was most likely in typesetting (composing) rather than typography.

p. 14 “In 1926, Dusseldorf’s GeSoLei exhibition, dedicated to healthcare, social welfare and physical exercise, was ‘the event of the year’ that ‘brought every man, woman and childin Dusseldorf to their feet.’ Preparations for GeSoLei kept apprentice typesetter Burtin busy.”
[what does GeSoLei stand for?—“The Gesolei exhibition held in Düsseldorf during the summer of 1926 was a major shop window for social hygiene and, potentially, for eugenics. The name GE-SO-LEI stood for Gesundheitspflege, soziale Fürsorge und Leibesübungen (health, welfare and exercise) which were popular catch-words.” See Health, Race, and German Politics between National Unification and Nazism 1870–1945 by Paul Weindling (Cambridge and New York: University of Cambridge, 1989), p. 414.

fig. 2, p. 15 “Burtin designed this Fanal Flamme-type specimen brochure for Schelter and Geisecke AG, announcing a new font.”
[the image shows two weights of a typeface being displayed not a single face; no date is provided though the text implies it was 1927.]

fig. 3, p. 15 “This 30cm x 22cm catalog from the early 1930s shows Burtin’s interest in experimental printing materials and techniques. Die-cut windows in a metallic paper cover let readers preview contents.”
[the catalogue is from 1932; see the document reproduced on the recto page; the 1929 type specimen for Cassandre’s Bifur sported a metallic cover with a circular die-cut window. ]

fig. 4, p. 16 [no date given; design is post-1927 since it uses Futura; the title is hand-lettered]

p. 16 “Burtin’s 1931 brochure for the German Association of Glass and Mirror Manufacturers (Spiegelglas) conveys an instant sense of transparency.”
[this is the work shown in fig. 1, p. 12 which is described there as being from the “late 1920s”.]

fig. 5, p. 17 “…like other Burtin catalogs of the late 1920s, if [Kristall-speigelglas (crystal mirror glass)] it features tabbed sections for fast reference.”
[here the German is translated; but in the text on p. 17 the catalogue is described as “Glass in Building: Technical Potentials (Figure 5)” and dated as from “the 1930s”. The title in the image itself says kristall-spiegelglas. It is handlettered in a unicase style reminiscent of the experiments of Bayer and Tschichold.]

[There is no general discussion of design in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s other than a passing reference to the Bauhaus on p. 18. (Graphic Design in Germany 1890–1945 by Jeremy Aynsley (London: Thames & Hudson, 2000) is absent from the bibliography.) Burtin was born in Cologne and worked there but there is no mention of the state of graphic design in that city during his formative years—not even of the famous 1928 Pressa exhibition. Hans Arp founded the Cologne DaDa group in 1919 but was it still active a decade later and did it have any influence on Burtin? How did Burtin come to the attention of Nazi officials, including Hitler and Goebbels, as a graphic designer? The authors only say, “Designs and brochures emerging from the Burtins’ studio were light-years ahead of the old gothic (fraktur) fonts and humorless ‘worker realism’ style. Nazi officials began asking Burtin to work for the cause, while trying to persuade him to divorce his Jewish wife.” p. 20 No year is given here, though 1937 is cited as the year that Goebbels “made an official request for Burtin to become the [Propaganda] Ministry’s director of design.” p. 20 The footnote does not cite a source but only tells us what assignments Burtin would have been involved with if he had accepted Goebbels’ offer. Also in 1937 “…Burtin was summoned again to Berlin, this time to meet Adolf Hitler. Pressed again to lead the design term at the propaganda ministry, Burtin mentioned that his wife was Jewish, an excuse that seemed certain to disqualify him from holding a senior position in the Third Reich. Hitler replied that posed no obstacle: Göring’s wife was Jewish, too.” p. 21 The footnote cites an interview given by Burtin in 1971 as the source for this story. This episode in Burtin’s career is one of the most fascinating in the book and cries out for more information. The notion that Burtin came to the attention of the Nazis because of his “advanced” design seems odd given the general view that the Nazis were against such work. But, then again, Burtin’s experiences—like those of Herbert Bayer—show us how much we need serious research into the status of graphic design during the Nazi years.]

p. 22 “Burtin’s reputation had preceded him to the U.S. in the widely read pages of Gebrauchsgraphik.”
p. 24 “After Germany’s Gebrauchsgraphik stopped publishing in 1934, The Composing Room created A/D (‘Art Director’) magazine to fill the gap.”
p. 27 “The Burtins had had to abandon much of their German portfolio in Cologne: fortunately, Gebrauchsgraphik, which was widely known by New York designers, had published examples of that work.”
[there is no other mention in the text, footnotes or bibliography of Gebrauchsgraphik articles about Burtin. How many were there, when were they published, and what were they about? Gebrauchsgraphik did not stop publishing in 1934 but continued until 1944.]

fig. 16, p. 29 “Burtin’s choice of Bodoni for his Vesalius title complements stark, stylized muscle fibers.”
[the typeface is a Didot not Bodoni.]

[There is no background on The Upjohn Company, the pharmaceutical manufacturer, even though Burtin’s career was entwined with the company from 1941 to 1971. Upjohn’s location in Kalamazoo, Michigan is not even mentioned until p. 79. In not looking at Upjohn in more detail the authors also fail to compare Burtin’s work for the company with graphics at either J.R. Geigy or CIBA, two Swiss pharmaceutical companies noted for their work. See Corporate Diversity: Swiss Graphic Design and Advertising 1940–1970 by Andres Janser and Barbara Junod (Baden: Lars Müller, 2009) for J.R. Geigy and Active Literature: Jan Tschichold and New Typography by Christopher Burke (London: Hyphen Press, 2008) for CIBA.]

p. 24 “Before long, the Levys introduced the Burtins to Cipe Pineles, then an artist at Vogue, and her future husband, William Golden, who had moved from Condé Nast to CBS. This nucleus of friends was destined to last until death did them part.”

p. 30 “Upjohn’s Dr. Garrard Macleod thought highly of the test-tube baby graphic; so highly that he preserved the original. More than six decades later, his sons still treasure the dummy of Burtin’s graphic.”
[These paragraphs are examples of the poor writing that often plagues this book.]

fig. 20, p. 32 “Burtin designed this Christmas card for Fortune in December 1941, just after the outbreak of war. Searchlights stab the sky to form a Christmas star, merging symbols of peace and war.”
[The symbol formed by the searchlights looks like a Jewish six-pointed star. Could Burtin have been making a subtle reference to the situation in Europe?]

[In looking at Burtin close-up the authors fail to place him in context with other designers of his time such as Paul Rand, Alvin Lustig, Saul Bass and William Golden. It would have been instructive to pair this Christmas card of Burtin’s with Rand’s covers for Directions magazine referencing the European conflict.]

p. 40 “…The Composing Room and other typographic leaders had been raising the bar on standards in type since 1927, pulling the industry forward.”
[What exactly had The Composing Room been doing in terms of typography? The firm is famous for holding exhibitions of the work of designers and publishing A/D and PM magazines, but nothing has been written about its work and its clients.]

p. 40 “Somebody had to manage these burgeoning standards of excellence. Exit the layout man; step forward the newly-important art director! The 1930s saw the art director rise through the hierarchy to emerge near the top.”
[The Art Directors Club was founded in 1920, implying that there was already a recognition of the need for art directors in advertising and magazines and that a nucleus of such individuals existed over a decade before the 1930s.]

[The discussion of Burtin’s contributions to Fortune magazine after being made art director in 1945 (pp. 40–52) ignores the work of contemporary magazine art directors such as Alexey Brodovitch at Harper’s Bazaar and Paul Rand at Directions. Also there are no examples of what Fortune looked like prior to Burtin’s tenure nor mention of any of the designers who did notable work for the magazine such as Thomas Maitland Cleland, Walter Buehr or Paolo Garretto. See Fortune: The Art of Covering Business by Daniel Okrent (Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 1999) for a wide selection of Fortune’s covers—but not interiors—prior to 1945. Showing a sample or two of this work would make it abundantly clear how revolutionary Burtin’s work was.]

p. 42 Burtin imposed what he would later call his ‘new discipline’ on design (Figure 26).… Simplicity, of course, was the whole point, as when he changed the font for the magazine’s title to Firmin Didot.”
[None of the issues of Fortune shown in the book have Firmin Didot for its title. Those from 1946 and 1947 have a hand-lettered title—which predated Burtin’s hiring—and the one from 1949 (fig. 34) is set in Times Roman. Fortune: The Art of Covering Business, which stops at the end of 1950, does not have any issues with mastheads in Firmin Didot. The authors do not say when Burtin’s tenure at Fortune came to an end, only that he was still working for the magazine in 1949 (see figs. 34 and 35, p. 48) and being allowed to work for other clients. However, the AIGA website says that Leo Lionni became art director at Fortune in 1948.]

p. 45 “In fact he [Burtin] drove his colleagues as hard as he drove himself.… Designers measure space in picas and points. [George] Klauber remembers designers at Fortune inventing a term to cover almost indiscernible adjustments on a page. They spoke sotto voce of ‘picas, points and Burtins’ as in ‘Move that headline just a Burtin to the right.’.”
[This is similar to the stories told about Hans Schmoller (1916-1985), art director at Penguin books following Jan Tschichold’s return to Switzerland in 1949, who was so fastidious about typographic details that he was nicknamed “Half-Point” Schmoller. “The only man who could distinguish between a Bembo full point [period] and a Garamond full point at 200 paces,” says Phil Baines in Penguin by Design: A Cover Story, 1935–2005 (London: Penguin, 2005).]

p. 50 “[Lester] Beall has been called the father of branding; Burtin, of ‘corporate identity.’”
[There is no footnote for this claim. Many sources cite Peter Behrens as the first corporate designer for his work with AEG (Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft) from 1907 to 1914. O.H.W. Hadank’s work for Haus Neuerburg, a tobacco company, from the mid-1920s to the mid-1950s also predated Burtin’s.]

p. 53 “Burtin, as far as I [George Klauber] can see, discovered plastics [as a design medium.]”
[Laszlo Moholy-Nagy experimented with plastics in his painting and photography as early as 1923.]

[The discussion of Burtin as an exhibition designer—the bulk of this book—makes no mention of any predecessors or contemporaries in the field: e.g. El Lissitsky, Alexander Rodchenko, Herbert Bayer, or Charles Eames.]

p. 59 “Will Burtin, Inc. prospered in the years after mid-century. Burtin worked as a designer and consultant in advertising with George Nelson’s studio, Parker Knoll Furniture, Herman Miller Furniture and Charles Eames; on book designs for McGraw-Hill, Random House and others; and on industrial and editorial projects for such clients as Eastman Kodak, IBM, the Smithsonian Institution, Mead Paper, Union Carbide, and the U.S. Information Agency.”
[The book describes one project for Eastman Kodak (pp. 107–110, 113-114) and two for IBM (pp. 79, 135–136) but none for any of these other clients.]

fig. 44, p. 61 “The Art Directors’ Club awarded Burtin the ADC Gold Medal for his Scope cover featuring gyotaku, Summer 1954.”
[gyotaku–the art of fish printing—is not explained. See]

[The book is often marred by the inclusion of trivial family information. For instance, see p. 62 “Carol Burtin [Will Burtin’s daughter and the wife of co-author Robert S.P. Fripp] celebrated her twelfth birthday in Cologne.” or p. 100 “In 1951, when the Goldens returned to their apartment with their infant son, Thomas, the Burtins were waiting to greet them: Carol recalls holding a large, white teddy bear.”]

p. 65 “In 1957, Switzerland produced the Helvetica family of fonts.”
[Haas, a Swiss typefoundry, produced Neue Haas Grotesk in 1957 in only one weight (bold). Other variants came out over the next fifteen years: 1958, regular; 1959, black and black expanded; 1961, italic and bold expanded; 1963, expanded, condensed, bold condensed and black condensed; 1965, compact, poster bold, poster bold condensed and poster compact; 1965–1967, black italic; 1966–1967, light; 1967–1968, light italic; 1969, bold italic; and 1972, light extra expanded. The face was not renamed Helvetica until 1960 when German Linotype and D. Stempel AG began making the typeface available for machine composition. See Helvetica Forever: The Story of a Typeface by Victor Malsy et al (Baden: Lars Müller Publishers, 2009).]

fig. 53, p. 72 “Here [Burtin’s walk-through Cell exhibition for Upjohn] was design innovation on par with the Isotype team interpreting public health standards in 1920s’ Vienna, and Herbert Bayer’s stylistic breakthrough in 1930s Germany.”
[Some explanation is needed for “Herbert Bayer’s stylistic breakthrough in 1930s Germany”. What is being referred to?]

fig. 54, p. 73 “Will Burtin, Inc. was Upjohn’s design department before outsourcing became popular.”
[There were designers who had long-running associations with clients without being on staff prior to Burtin and Upjohn. For example, W.A. Dwiggins did design work for Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.—that was not limited to book designs—from 1926 to 1956; and for the Limited Editions Club—also not limited to book designs—from 1929 to 1947.]

fig. 61, p. 83 “Max Miedinger and Edouard [sic] Hoffmann based Helvetica [Neue Haas Grotesk] on Akzidenz Grotesque, popular at the turn of the twentieth century.”
[“Akzidenz Grotesque” should be “Akzidenz Grotesk”]
[This image is a specimen for Helvetica. The caption does not indicate who designed it or when but there is the implication it is the work of Burtin: “Will Burtin was among a select group of American graphic designers who championed Helvetica, the new sans-serif font, in the early 1960s.” A very similar design—credited to the Haas Typefoundry Ltd., 1968—is shown in Helvetica Forever on p. 56. ]

p. 84 “Haas-Grotesk” should be “Neue Haas Grotesk”

p. 84 “Edouard Hofmann” should be “Eduard Hoffmann”

p. 84 “When the Burtins returned to New York in the fall of 1958, they imported Helvetica with them.”
[How did Burtin do this? Did he carry Neue Haas Grotesk—available only as foundry type—with him on the airplane from Switzerland to the United States?]

p. 88 “As Roger Remington points out….”
p. 89 “Remington, who has made a fine study of the Upjohn Brain’s physiology….”
p. 91 “Remington notes that….”
fig. 81, p. 115 “Remington comments that this….”
[This phrasing is a bit odd since one of the authors is Roger Remington.]

p. 100 “…one of the last things the Burtins stuffed into a small suitcase when they fled Germany was a specimen sheet of the type Firmin Didot. When Bill Golden was developing his new identity for CBS he asked Burtin if he would suggest a typeface. Burtin loaned him that specimen sheet—and the logotype ‘CBS’ is still written in Firmin Didot.”
[Freeman Craw, designer of Craw Clarendon and Craw Modern, told me over twenty years ago that he designed both CBS Didot and CBS Sans typefaces. Several websites say Craw’s design dates from 1966—though there is an example of it dating from 1965 online for “CBS Presents This Program in Color”. and and The CBS logo from 1959—the year of Golden’s death—located online (from the promo for Peck’s Bad Girl) looks more like a Bodoni than a Didot.,r:20,s:106&tx=51&ty=80&biw=962&bih=973It]
Perhaps Golden used Burtin’s Firmin Didot (probably the Ludwig & Mayer foundry version of 1930) and then Craw redesigned the letters and made an entire typeface several years later.]

p. 102 Howard Mont is quoted: “…Will [Burtin] was such a fine designer, so creative and so precise, with his German Bauhaus training and everything else.”
[The authors should correct this mistaken statement since they indicate that Burtin’s education had nothing to do with the Bauhaus.]

fig. 77, p. 105 The image from the 1963 Metabolism, the Process of Life exhibition shows a Trade Gothic-style sans serif. If Burtin was such an ardent adherent of Helvetica, then why was it not used here?
fig. 84, p. 120 The image for Vision 65: World Congress on New Challenges to Human Communications [book cover? poster?] is set in Trade Gothic.
also fig. 80, p. 112 The title on the cover of Will Burtin Visual aspects of science (1963) is set in Akzidenz Grotesk (or Standard).
p. 113 “Why was the brochure for this traveling exhibition [Will Burtin Visual aspects of science] printed in Germany?… For this very personal project Burtin went back to his roots in German precision—with Helvetica [sic] throughout.”

fig. 88, p. 126 Story of Mathematics for young people by James T. Rogers (1966) is the first image that unequivocally shows Helvetica.
See for clearer images than in the book.
p. 127 Mont: “This was one of the major books that Will did. There was Standard [Akzidenz Grotesk] font size and there was Helvetica. And Will didn’t want to know from Standard, and Standard was on the machine [Linotype] and Helvetica wasn’t. So Standard had to go!”
[By January 1965 Helvetica was available in New York as a machine face from Mergenthaler Linotype.]

p. 127 “James Marston Fitch had a contract from the City of New York to improve urban esthetics, a task that included restoring city streetscapes and parks, including Central Park. Fitch, a pioneer and the leading practitioner of restoration architecture, asked Burtin to design new signage. Before long, new signs in Helvetica began to appear all over the city. (The fact that ‘Curb your dog’ was the first to require the Burtin touch caused the maestro some chagrin!) Other cities followed New York’s example. Arguably, urban signage did more to promote Helvetica in North America than good book design.”
[This story is not documented and I have been unable to verify a single aspect of it. The Fitch archives at Avery Library, Columbia University have no information on such a project and there is no mention of it in the back issues of the New York Times. New York City street signs have never been set in Helvetica. The footnote to the paragraph says, in its entirety: “Burtin was impressed by the work of Masaru Katzumie, some of whose iconic symbols for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics were later adopted into Japan’s modern urban and traffic signage. Katzumie, or one of thirty young volunteer designers working with him on the Olympics, created the universal wheelchair symbol, among others. Katsumie [sic] made a visual presentation at Vision 65.” What this has to do with Fitch, the restoration of New York City streetscapes and the use of Helvetica in the urban environment is unclear. The “Curb your dog” sign set in Helvetica was designed not by Burtin but by Walter Kacik, a former member of Unimark International. It was unveiled in August 1967 as part of Kacik’s groundbreaking work for the New York City Department of Sanitation. Kacik used Helvetica (all lowercase!) for the typography on the Sanitation trucks. See “The Cities: New York Is New York—Alas” by John Lahr in Print XXII:II (March/April 1968), pp.55–56, New York Times August 8, 1967 and Communication Arts vol. 13, no. 4 (1971), pp. 24-31. What is odd about this discussion of Burtin’s role in disseminating Helvetica is that it overlooks a project of his involving Helvetica that is documented: signage for a Cleveland neighborhood c.1968. See Burtin’s contribution to “Transportation Graphics” in Dot Zero 5 (Fall 1968), pp. 18–22. Furthermore, the Will Burtin archives at Rochester Institute of Technology include boxes 19.1–19.3, 19.4, 239.1+, 241.1+, 262+, 227.1–227.2+, 239.2–240.2+, 243.1–245.2+ and drawer 53.2–53.3 related to the University Circle, Cleveland signage project—yet it is not mentioned in this book. See]

p. 128 “…the structure was neither simple not [sic] cheap to disassemble, transport and reassemble.”

p. 128 “Its [the model for Genes in Action] ‘informal preview’ Midtown before being trucked to Chicago marked the importance that several stakeholders attached to the impact of this latest large model.”
[Something is missing in this sentence.]

p. 130 “Genes in Action [1966] shows Burtin’s fine command of typography, and of Helvetica.”
[The authors are obsessive about Burtin’s relationship to Helvetica. Here the image in fig. 91 supports their claim.]

fig. 97, p. 137 “His [Burtin’s] plays on ‘two’ [the age of his grandson Eric] include Cologne’s dialectic [sic], zwo.”

p. 141 “The Sixties drew to a close with Burtin in high esteem. Harvard University appointed him Research Fellow in Visual and Environmental Studies at its Carpenter Center….”
[No specific date is provided for this award. The RIT Will Burtin website says, “In 1971, Burtin received the highest honor of the graphic design world, the Medal of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), in recognition of his many contributions to American graphic design as an influential innovator, a gifted visual problem solver, and notable communicator.… Shortly after receiving this award, Will Burtin was appointed as esearch Fellow in Visual and Environmental Studies at the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts at Harvard University.”]

fig. 104, p. 144 [Burtin’s visualization of a quotation from John Milton about education is shown but not dated.]

p. 148 “Burtin influences live on (Figure 108). Not surprisingly, they have evolved. Corporate identity blossomed; so has branding, the simplest definition of which is ‘giving products meaning’’ [sic] His early and sustained advocacy of Helvetica in North America has been repaid, if the success of that font is any measure. Indeed, once it took root, Helvetica gained converts and impetus so fast that the many variants threw its specifications into disarray until Linotype acquired it, redrew it, renamed it Neue Helvetica and added a numbering system. Helvetica was among the first fonts to migrate to desktop publishing and personal computing, trends that even Burtin, a man ‘way ahead of his time,’ according to Aubrey Singer, could not have anticipated.”
[This is a desperate attempt to polish Burtin’s legacy—which is sufficiently strong based on his work for Fortune and Upjohn alone—by yoking it to Helvetica’s popularity.]

p. 149 “Their joint headstone declares, in superb calligraphy: In memory of / Hilde [sic] Munk Burtin / 1910–1960 / wife of Will Burtin / 1908–1972 / who married Cipe Pineles / 1910–1991 / widow of William Golden / 1911–1959.”
[Although the stone was carved by the John Stevens Shop there is no photograph of it.]