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The Geometer’s Compass

December 2, 2019The European Renaissance was obsessed with classical antiquity. For many of its intellectuals it marked a cultural and scientific golden age. Many classical authors, among them the likes of Lucretius and Cicero, were rediscovered and celebrated. And among the disciplines given...

Fonts in Focus: Decimal & Chill

October 28, 2019Type designers take care of the details, so that we aren’t unnecessarily distracted by them. And good type designers relish those details. To listen to them explain their craft and describe their font-making processes is like watching the child of zero-sugar parents eat its firs...

Hera’s Milky Way & the Origins of the Multiverse

October 22, 2019John BoardleyTo the Egyptians, it was a reflection of the Nile; for the Babylonians, a giant serpent or length of rope. In Greek mythology, the infant Heracles was brought to suckle at the breast of a sleeping Hera, the goddess of childbirth. When she wakes, she pushes...

The Secret Life of Books

October 11, 2019John BoardleyI seldom write book reviews. Despite reading many good books, it’s quite an effort, for me at least, to gather my scraps and notes and thoughts and hone them into a few hundred words. But Tom Mole’s latest book is worth the effort – and worth more than a retweet...

Long-Haired Stars & the End of the World

October 3, 2019John Boardley For the best part of 2,000 years, the earth stood at the center of the universe. It did not move but was surrounded by a series of embedded transparent spheres. Each hollow sphere, for the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn and an oute...

Underground World & the man who (thought he) knew everything

September 17, 2019John Boardley Often described as the man who knew everything, Athanasius Kircher (1602–80) was a German Jesuit polymath of international renown during his own lifetime. He was a prolific author with an astoundingly broad range of interests, writing about everything, fr...

Meditations on Snowflakes

September 13, 2019John Boardley Born in December 1571 in southwest Germany, Johannes Kepler would go on to become one of the greatest observational astronomers of all time. He would also write books that forever transformed our view of the cosmos. He is best known for his three laws of planetar...

Pomp, Type & Circumstance

August 21, 2019John Boardley Within several decades of its invention in Europe, the printed or typographic book was already outselling handwritten or manuscript books. A very conservative estimate would be that 12 million books were produced from the publication of Gutenberg and Fust’s first pr...

Renaissance memes & the chemical pleasure garden

July 4, 2019John BoardleyWhat people read began to change during the Renaissance. The continued expansion of schools and universities and better literacy was bolstered by the European invention of print in the mid-fifteenth century. The rediscovery of classical antiquity and of the New World, t...

The Prince & the fleur-de-lys

June 16, 2019John BoardleyWritten by Niccolò Machiavelli in 1513, The Prince is undoubtedly the most famous political treatise of the Renaissance and a book that is, if not actually read, familiar to many even today. More than 500 years after its first publication, it still remains both popu...

The Pope’s Romance

June 10, 2019John BoardleyEven prior to the completion of Gutenberg’s landmark Bible in about 1454, the print-run of 180 copies was already sold out. We know this because it was recorded in letters between Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (1405–1464) and his friend, the Spanish cardinal Juan de...
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National Gallery Photo 2018-06-08 13:15

In Turner's beautifully epic portrayal of Homer's Odyssey, we see Ulysses standing aloft on his ship deriding the Cyclops, whom he and his companions have just left blinded, and invoking the vengeance of Neptune. One of the flags is painted with the scene of the Trojan Horse. The horses of the Sun are rising above the horizon ('Odyssey', Book 9). Opening on Monday, visit 'Thomas Cole: Eden to Empire' and see Turner's influence on this American artist: http://bit.ly/2JsMlxa

Tate Photo 2018-06-07 18:20

This Volunteers' Week we are celebrating the extraordinary contribution of over 500 volunteers at Tate who give their time, passion & expertise to visitors from all over the globe, across our four galleries. 'I didn’t know anything about contemporary art until I started volunteering at Tate in 2016. I’ve learnt a lot! I love passing on this knowledge to visitors. It keeps my brain active! My favourite room in Tate Britain is the 1840s room and my favourite painting is The Lady of Shalott. I like all the Pre-Raphaelites in Tate Britain. This is my favourite room and my favourite place to be.’ - Steve Daszko, volunteer visitor host with John William Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott 1888 https://goo.gl/RvZ97V

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Photo 2018-06-07 15:58

On view tomorrow, June 8—"Giacometti” fills the ramps of our rotunda, featuring nearly 200 sculptures, paintings, and drawings by the preeminent artist Alberto Giacometti, whose intensive focus on the human condition continues to provoke and inspire new generations. A collaboration with the Fondation Giacometti in Paris (Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti), this comprehensive exhibition examines anew the artist’s practice and his unmistakable vocabulary. Learn more: https://gu.gg/2xPE44R … Photo: David Heald

Gun of the Day - NRA Museums 2018-06-07 13:01

GUN OF THE DAY - A Ranger 1911A1? The Robert E. Petersen Gallery holds many unusual handguns and this Colt 1911A1 is right in there swinging. While some might be captivated by the fine set of stag grips on this GOTD, the oddly truncated trigger guard sets this pistol apart. There are a number of similar handguns in existence that were modified by Texas Ranger Captain Manuel T. Gonzaullas, who spent considerable time in later life in Hollywood, not far from where Robert E. Petersen lived. Is this one of that Ranger's handguns? We just don't know. Caliber: .45 ACP Production Date: 1943 #NRAmuseums #GunOfTheDay #guns #history

National Gallery Photo 2018-06-07 12:43

Gauguin was born #OnThisDay in 1848. 'Bowl of Fruit and Tankard before a Window' by Gauguin is a tribute to a Cézanne painting Gauguin had acquired around 10 years earlier, 'Still Life with Compotier, Glass and Apples'. It repeats many of the elements of this painting, such as the fruit, pottery, rumpled tablecloth and the knife at the lower right. On a wider level it is also indicative of Gauguin moving away from Impressionism to a more structurally rigorous art exemplified by Cézanne's work. View this homage to still life in Room 43: http://bit.ly/2GQArzJ