Date of Visit: June 19, 2017
The Calligraphy Revival 1906–2016: An exhibition of the art of beautiful writing
May 17-July 29, 2017
Grolier Club first floor gallery
47 East 60th St., New York, NY, (212) 838-6690
” …The artistic expression of this utilitarian creation [calligraphy] can rise to the level of fine art, just as architecture, photography, and other expressions of the human mind can, in their highest form, be appreciated as an art.” –So is the argument in the introduction panel to the current show in the downstairs gallery of The Grolier Club in New York City. Curator (and calligrapher) Jerry Kelly had the difficult task of selecting a small group of calligraphers (about 70) to illustrate the calligraphic revival from Edward Johnston’s influnece (1906 Writing & Illuminating & Lettering) until today. Adding to the difficulty was the need to limit each artist to one piece. Kelly gives us not only the historical and important, he adds some artists that are less well know or are just new on the scene.
The exhibition is divided into sections, starting with “The Early Pioneers.” Included are the scribes who learned from Johnston’s book; Graily Hewitt, Eric Gil, Heather Child, Anna Simmons, Gudrun and Hermann Zapf plus Rudolf Koch, F.H. Ernst Schneider and Jan Tschichold. It is rare to have a chance to appreciate this original work in person.
Curator (and calligrapher) Jerry Kelly speaking to the visitors at the Grolier Club exhibit.
Anna Simons “Titles and Initials for the Bremer Press”, 1922. She was a student of Edward Johnston and translated his Writing, Lettering and Illuminating into German, in turn influencing many important German calligraphers.
Eleven cases in total are filled with thematic examples from Europe and the United States— titles on dust jackets for publishers, engraved letters, European and American masters up until the present day. A number of them were from Kelly’s personal collection. Below is a small sampling.
Jesse Marsolais, 2016 (United States).
Jovica Veljović, 1984 (Yugoslovia) and Brody Neuenschwander, 2016 (Belgium)
Luca Barcelona, 2014 (Italy)
Susan Skarsgard, (United States) 2007 A lovely single letter on silver paper from Twinrocker.
Lynne Yun, 2016 (United States). Ms Yun, a type designer at Monotype, is a graduate of Type@Cooper.
Stephen Raw c. 2000 (England)
Make plans to see this soon as it closes in the near future. There was another bit of happy news I gleaned from the labels—there is an upcoming show at Grolier featuring the work of Gudrun Von Hesse. Really looking forward to that!