Thursday, October 27, 2011

Paul Renner - Futura research

Futura is a geometric sans-serif typeface designed in 1927 by Paul Renner. It is based on geometric shapes that became representative visual elements of the Bauhaus design style of 1919–1933.  Commissioned by the Bauer Type Foundry in reaction to Ludwig and Mayer’s seminal Erbar of 1922, Futura was commercially released in 1927.
The Futura family was originally cast in Light, Medium, Bold, and Bold Oblique fonts in 1927. Light Oblique, Medium Oblique, Demibold, and Demibold Oblique fonts were later released in 1930. The book font was released in 1932 and the book oblique font was released in 1939. Edwin W. Shaar designed extra Bold font in 1952 as well as designing the extra Bold Italic font with Tommy Thompson in 1955. Matrices for machine composition were made by Intertype.
Original Futura design also included small capitals and the old-style figures, which were dropped from the original metal issue of the type. Neufville Digital first produced the digital versions of these glyphs under the Futura ND family.  Released in 1932, Futura Display uses more angular strokes, resulting in rectangular letterforms. Steile Futura was Paul Renner's attempt to create a typeface that would be closer to the nineteenth century sans serifs than to the geometric model. During the course of development, Renner developed several intermediate versions. Some of the early design could be found in the experimental font called Renner-Grotesk, which appeared as a trial type casting from the Stempel type foundry in 1936. Renner kursiv, a true italic companion to the regular version, was made after Stempel had been taken over by Bauer in 1938.  The work on the type family continued in the 1940s, but Renner's poor health had slowed down the development. Renner started to work again on this project in 1951 under the name of Steile Futura (steil in German means "upright" or "steep"). The font families released by Bauer consist of mager (light), halbfett (medium), fett (bold), kursiv halbfett (medium italic), and kursiv fett (bold italic). The font family was released in 1952–1953. It was sold in German, English, Spanish, and French markets as Steile Futura, Bauer Topic, Vox, and Zénith respectively.  The font family has rounder letters than Futura Display. For the first time, italic type features are incorporated in the italic fonts. The fonts incorporate handwriting features, especially in italic version.
In typography, a sans-serif, sans serif or san serif typeface is one that does not have the small projecting features called "serifs" at the end of strokes.  The term comes from the French word sans, meaning "without".  In print, sans-serif fonts are more typically used for headlines than for body text.  The conventional wisdom holds that serifs help guide the eye along the lines in large blocks of text.  Sans serifs, however, have acquired considerable acceptance for body text in Europe.
Geometric sans-serif typefaces are based on geometric shapes. Note the optically circular letter "O" and the simple construction of the lowercase letter "a". Geometric sans-serif fonts have a very modern look and feel. Lineal typefaces are constructed on simple geometric shapes, circles or rectangles.   Geometric fonts usually have a single-story “g” or “a”.  Of the sans-serif categories, the geometric typefaces are commonly the least useful for body text.
Futura has an appearance of efficiency and forwardness. The typeface is derived from simple geometric forms (near-perfect circles, triangles and squares) and is based on strokes of near-even weight, which are low in contrast. This is most visible in the almost perfectly round stroke of the o, which is nonetheless slightly ovoid. In designing Futura, Renner avoided the decorative, eliminating non-essential elements. The lowercase has tall ascenders, which rise above the cap line. The uppercase characters present proportions similar to those of classical Roman capitals.
Germany's defeat in World War 1, the fall of the German Monarchy and the abolition of censorship under the new, liberal Weimar Republic allowed an upsurge of radical experimentation in all the arts, previously suppressed by the old regime. Many Germans of left-wing views were influenced by the cultural experimentation that followed the Russian Revolution, such as constructivism.
Social, technological, and economic shifts are paralleled by changes in the forms of visual expression. Two forces drive creation of a new form of public script: developments in the technology used to create the script and governing attitudes at the time of its creation. Because writing, in the sense of using a script for the dissemination of information, is a social act, a third force—the moderating influence of cultural habit—strongly affects writing. Habit restrains any script created to serve the immediate needs of a group from extremes of shape alteration or arrangement and thereby prevents the isolation of the group within its cultural milieu. The presence of extreme letter shapes and new forms of the arrangement of writing in post-World War I Europe clearly indicates an attempt to respond to and control immense pressures in a society torn apart by a cataclysm of the first magnitude and sheds light on the cultural, technological, commercial, social, and political aspects of the period between the two world wars.
Although Renner was not associated with the Bauhaus, he shared many of its idioms and believed that a modern typeface should express modern models, rather than be a revival of a previous design. Renner's initial design included several geometrically constructed alternative characters and ranging (old-style) figures, which can be found in the typeface Architype Renner.
Paul Renner (August 9, 1878 – April 25, 1956) was a typeface designer, most notably of Futura.  He was born in Wernigerode, Germany and died in Hödingen.He was born in Prussia and had a strict Protestant upbringing, being educated in 19th century gymnasium. He was brought up to have a very German sense of leadership, of duty and responsibility. He was suspicious of abstract art and disliked many forms of modern culture, such as jazz, cinema, and dancing. But equally, he admired the functionalist strain in modernism. Thus, Renner can be seen as a bridge between the traditional (19th century) and the modern (20th century). He attempted to fuse the Gothic and the roman typefaces.
Renner was a prominent member of the Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation). Two of his major texts are Typografie als Kunst (Typography as Art) and Die Kunst der Typographie (The Art of Typography). He created a new set of guidelines for good book design and invented the popular Futura, a geometric sans-serif font used by many typographers throughout the 20th century and today. The typeface Architype Renner is based upon Renner's early experimental exploration of geometric letterforms for the Futura typeface, most of which were deleted from the face's character set before it was issued. Tasse, a 1994 typeface is a revival of Renner's 1953 typeface Steile Futura.
Renner was a friend of the eminent German typographer Jan Tschichold and a key participant in the heated ideological and artistic debates of that time.
Renner’s three books on typography—Typografie als Kunst (1922), Mechanisierte Grafik; Schrift, Typo, Foto, Film, Farbe (1930), and Die Kunst der Typographie (1939) provide an opportunity to establish Renner’s conception of Futura over time. The letterforms and page design of the books themselves provide specific formal evidence of changes reflected in the text. Typografie als Kunst is set in Unger fraktur and remarks in the book make it clear that Renner admired both the type and Unger’s program. Mechanisierte Grafik, set in a version of Futura medium that retains a Gothic inspired “post and ball” lower-case ‘r,’ shows that Renner believed that the modernization of German typography was under way but that an international style that incorporated German typographic traditions might not be possible. Die Kunst der Typographie was set in book weight Futura, but returns to the page proportions of the first book. The elegance of the lighter, taller pages contain a text of clearly written guidelines for typographic practice, not reform. This visual conception of the German book moves from a 1922 visual norm not essentially different from German books published in the early nineteenth century to one reflecting the imperatives of 1930 German printing technology, and, finally, in 1938, to a visual form which demonstrates how the sheet anchor of cultural continuity can mitigate the forces of technological and social change.
Even before 1932, Renner made his opposition to the Nazis very clear, notably in his book “Kultur-bolschewismus?” (Cultural Bolshevism?). He was unable to find a German publisher, so his Swiss friend Eugen Rentsch published it.
After the Nazis seized power in March 1933, Paul was arrested and dismissed from his post in Munich in 1933, and subsequently went into a period of internal exile. Soon after the book's publication, it was withdrawn from the German book market, until Stroemfeld Verlag issued a photomechanical reprint, Frankfurt am Main/Basel, in 2003. The new edition included comments by Roland Reuss and Peter Staengle (a main source for these notes) 

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