Typography in the Art Nouveau Period

The central problem of Art Nouveau typography was the creation of a unifying form of typeface and image to illustrate or visualize books and newspapers. This typeface-image combination had already been exhausted as a simple layout of one next to the other.

Many newly founded weekly or monthly publications put these ideas into practice. The “Revue Blanche”, founded in France in 1891, “The Yellow Book” in 1894 and “The Savoy” in 1896 in England, all promoted Art Nouveau ideas.

These new publications were particularly numerous in Germany: “Pan” appeared in 1895, followed by “Jugend” (Youth) and “Simplicissimus” in 1896, “Dekorative Kunst” (Decorative Art) and “Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration” (German Art and Decoration) in 1897, and finally “Die Insel” (The Island) in 1899. The designs of these publications were as artistic as they were decadent: color and paper, illustration and decoration were all of the highest quality. The editions were usually very small due to the high costs on the one hand and the publishers’ elitist attitude on the other. “Pan” appeared in an edition of 2000 copies and cost DM25 per issue, “Die Insel” had only 400 subscribers and the magazine “Ver sacrum”, which defined the style scene in Austria, also had only 600 readers.

Many of these aesthetic projects lasted about five years only to disappear due to the low demand or financial difficulties. But in their day they enjoyed considerable success. Influential designers flocked to the magazines and made original contributions. These included, among others, Henry de Toulouse-Lautrec, Emil Orlik, Heinrich Vogeler the Kleukens brothers, Max Liebermann and Georg Belwe. Many of them worked successfully with the publishing houses which published the most important and beautiful books of this time: the Eugen Diderichs Verlag, the Ernst Ludwig Press, Insel Verlag or Bruckmann Verlag.

more ... The German Luminaries

A selection of Linotype Art Nouveau Fonts:

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