World as Words
The 20th Century in Europe and the USA

22.09.2010 to 16.01.2011

At its heart, this exhibition, organized by the Art Library, explores the sign system formed by the many alphabet fonts used in Europe and the USA since 1890, and how that sign system was variously dissected and recreated over time in books, magazines, advertising, posters and printed matter of every kind. With more than 500 objects on display, visitors are granted a comprehensive insight into the linguistic diversity of graphic design.

Starting with Belgian and French Art Nouveau, as well as works from the Vienna Secession or examples of such German movements as Jugendstil and the Deutscher Werkbund, the exhibition illustrates the various forms of the typographic poster, from the severely objective and constructive to the pictographic use of type in forming images. In addition, prints from the New Typography movement, by such artists as Moholy-Nagy and Schwitters, the Dutch avant-garde and the Italian Futurists are also on display.

The 1930s and 40s were defined by Art Deco and, in Germany, Nazi propaganda, as well as graphic designers who had worked for such magazines as 'Vogue' and 'Harpers Bazaar' who became luminaries in magazine design in the post-war years. Thanks to them, pre-war modernist styles experienced a resurgence, enriched by pop culture and a huge diversity of forms that, from the late 70s onwards, also bore musical influences, as seen, for instance, in punk and techno. In addition to print media, photographs and films are also on view which draw the viewer's gaze to the appearance of typeface in the urban setting and touch on the area of moving type, as well as featuring individual typographers.