Even before the fieldtrip to the Letterform Archive, this exhibit at SFCB, which is a selection from the Archive’s collection, had sounded pretty cool. Once we had been to the Archive, I definitely wanted to go check it out. I knew there would be amazing, beautiful and inspiring work to look at, and I always enjoy exhibits at SFCB as they are a nice size – you can really spend time with everything and see it all, but not be overwhelmed. Also it’s usually pretty quiet, I enjoyed having the gallery almost to myself to browse in peace.
A few bits from the exhibit material:
From Illuminated manuscripts to psychedelic posters, from pen calligraphy to vector lettering, Without Type evokes striking and unexpected aesthetic echoes among letterforms created across time periods and geographies. The diversity of shapes and styles on display is testament to the endless creativity that can stem from the simple act of making letters by hand.
Without Type features handmade works from diverse disciplines including calligraphers, constructivists, architects, type designers & illustrators, such as Jessica Hische, El Lissitzky, Eric Carle and William Addison Dwiggins, plus many more.
It’s a really lovely selection, covering a wide span of history and a variety of cultures. Some are by anonymous scribes lost to the sands of time, others are modern Name artists. I really appreciated that there were languages other than English represented, in some ways it’s easier to enjoy the forms and shapes when I’m not trying to read/comprehend meaning. Although I suppose there’s probably part of my mind that can never get away from trying to do that.
Despite the variety, there definitely seemed to be a common thread or energy throughout the show, which I suppose was the direct involvement of the hand. It made me wonder if that was just felt since I knew that was the premise of the show, or if I would have had that same sense seeing any of these pieces individually. Then again, maybe that’s neither here nor there.
The expectation for amazing, beautiful and inspiring was met and exceeded! Show will be up through April 3, 2016.