The work and life of this German type and book-designer are, for the first time, presented at length and with full historical documentation. Renner lived through the first half of the twentieth century, and this book is, in effect, a history of typography in Germany in those years. It also speaks to present concerns in design, and especially to the search for a rationality deeper than one of easy rules of style.
|availability||out of print|
|dimensions||240 × 170 mm|
|illustrations||110 b&w + 20 colour pictures|
|binding||sewn & jacketed paperback|
German culture in the twentieth century moved quickly and intensely, bound up with the politics of the country. Paul Renner (1878–1956) lived and worked through constituent episodes of this history, both embodying the patterns of his times and providing a critical commentary on them. In this book Christopher Burke provides the first extended account of an essential and still underrated figure.
Beginning his career in the thick of the Munich cultural renaissance, Paul Renner worked as a ‘book artist’, applying values he had learnt as a painter to this everyday item of multiple production. An early and prominent member of the Deutscher Werkbund, he was committed to the values of quality in design, always tempered by a certain sobriety of attitude and style. In the 1920s Renner engaged with the radical modernism of that time, briefly in Frankfurt, and then in a more extended phase at the printing school at Munich. Under Renner’s leadership, and with teachers such as Georg Trump and Jan Tschichold, the school produced work of quiet significance. In those years Renner undertook the design of the now ubiquitous typeface Futura. Christopher Burke’s analysis of the design process reveals the characteristic Renner approach: he took up with current tendencies, but through an extended process of finely judged development, helped to deliver a product that has long-lasting quality. In the Nazi seizure of power of 1933, Renner was dismissed from his teaching post – in days recounted here in dramatic detail – and entered a state of ‘inner emigration’. Burke’s account of the Nazi years shows Renner negotiating events with dignity. After 1945, Renner lived in retirement, but entered public discussion of design issues as a voice of experience and sanity.
Paul Renner is a work of discovery. As part of its fresh narrative and analysis, it includes much new illustrative material and the first full bibliography of Renner’s writings.