KUNSTHALLE PRAHA’S VISUAL STYLE IS BASED ON ITS OWN TYPEFACE, KUNST
20. September 2017
Kunsthalle Praha’s visual style, created in cooperation with Studio Najbrt, is based on its own typeface, Kunst, which was inspired by sketches from the typographic genius Jan Tschichold.
Typographer Marek Pistora designed the original font, Kunst, for Kunsthalle Praha as an updated version of Tschichold’s original, while referring to roots reaching back to the modern art of the 20th century. The typeface thus connects Kunsthalle Praha’s visual identity with its programmatic focus on the period from modernity up to the present.
The original sketch was published in 1930 in the magazine Börsenblatt für den Deutschen Buchhandel, [German Book Industry News]. The typeface is based on Jan Tschichold’s early modernist views, which were influenced by the geometric principles of the Bauhaus group. In an article, Tschichold recommended a sans-serif font (without the short horizontal lines that fonts like Times New Roman have) strictly set into a grid as a “fast and easy recipe” for the creation of letterforms which could be easily cut out and added to photographs.
Extract from Tschichold’s instructions:
It should be pointed out that in Tschichold’s notes, the original typeface was created with the same intent as Kunsthalle Praha—for experienced professionals as well as for those just starting to discover the field.
Marek Pistora of Studio Najbrt modified the typeface’s original strict forms both aesthetically and functionally. The limited set of characters had to be expanded with dozens of others necessary for contemporary use. To create the carons and accents so necessary for the Czech alphabet, the strict square grid had to be broken in the end. The original weight of the font was enriched by lighter and bolder variants creating a new three-member type family. Subsequent optical corrections made the typeface deviate from Tschichold’s strict geometry.
Jan Tschichold (1902–1974) was not only a typographer, but also a calligrapher, graphic designer, author of publications and teacher. In his most important books, Die Neue Typographie (The New Typography, 1928), and Typographische Gestaltung (Typographic Design, 1935), Tschichold introduced the principles of modernism in graphic design, book adaptation and the use of modern typefaces. At the same time, he was interested in Baroque calligraphy, and the influence could be seen in his later work, where he deviated from the strict modernist style. Jan Tschichold left behind an extensive graphic and typographic legacy, and his influence can be felt among designers to this day.