Typography Analysis

March 9, 2009


Joost Schmidt

Bauhaus, located in Germany, is an institution that focuses on fine and applied arts/crafts.  Over the years, Bauhaus changed the new “outlook” of art and design. Bauhaus was well known for introducing modernist architecture and design and how it applies to various art form.  It had a great impact on developments in art and design. 

The poster above was a poster designed for the Bauhaus exhibition held in Weimar. It was designed in 1923, which was the year when “new typography” was introduced to the Bauhaus. At first, the founders of the Bauhaus did not see typography as the central role in design. However, after the “new typography” was introduced as the most important communications medium, the instructors at Bauhaus began to design unique layouts for typographic designs. They were concerned with the “clarity of the message in its most emphatic form.” 

Since the introduction of new typography, instructors strived to develop new ways to convey messages. Instructors like Maholy-Nagy and Joost Schmidt developed “avant-garde” typesetting to create a new vision. In various experiments, they saw types forming unique shapes and its arrangements were based on contemporary themes. 

Joost Schmidt designed posters for Bahuaus exhibitions based on his experiments with avant-garde typesetting. The poster above was one of his designs for Bauhaus exhibition in Weimar in 1923. To reflect the Bauhaus’ characteristics, he tried to incorporate all forms of art practiced at the Bauhaus – architecture, typography, photography, sculpture, and painting. The poster was printed using color lithography, which is a method in which a stone or a metal plate is carved or etched. This was the very first Bauhaus poster and demonstrates characteristics of the New Typography. The essence of the New Typography was clarity, and hierarchy was the key solution to achieve clarity. 

This poster is very simple, yet the sharp angles and various geometric forms are very striking. Different components on the poster almost seem like puzzle pieces forced to form unity . An abstract composition of rectangular segments, diagonal bars, and circular forms are dynamic. The diagonal tilt helps the viewers to follow the rectangular segments to see the Bauhaus logo located inside the circular segment. Then the viewers are immediately able  to read the word, Bauhaus. The poster includes great sense of Hierarchy. Informations regarding the exhibition are divided clearly, and follows the order of importance. The information is separated into three different parts. First, we read what the poster is about (exhibition). The word Ausstellung, meaning exhibition, catches the eye because it’s the only word that floats in the white space and separates itself from the diagonal bars. While other words follow its nearest forms, “ausstellung” is not placed next to or against any forms. Then we read who the poster is about, Bauhaus. Lastly, place and dates are read. The poster emphasizes contrasts but at the same time, these contrasts create a new unity. Forms are made by joining the opposites together and these forms create a rhythmic expression. The overall design is function and modern. 

exhibition poster

exhibition poster

I rotated the canvas through photoshop to see if it’d make any difference. Visually, the diagonal tilt brings so much emphasis compared to the centered version above, and introduces us to a new grid system that was not available during that time. I think Joost Schmidt had a great impact on how the posters are designed today.He developed a new system, and a new way to communicate using typography in forms. Placing type in certain forms create more emphasis and strengthens the message.


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