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Bodoni

 
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     The impact of the French revolution could not leave the world of typography untouched. The rococo style was becoming out of fashion, being replaced by new typefaces. In this wave of change, Giambattista Bodoni was a key figure.
     Born in 1740 Bodoni apprenticed at the Propaganda Fide, a Vatican press in Rome. At the age of 28, around 1768, he took charge of the official press of Ferdinand Duke of Parma, the Stamperia Reale.
     Bodoni is credited to be the "inventor" of the modern roman typefaces. Taking over from where Baskerville left, he designs a new typeface which is distinguished by a strong contrast between thin and thick strokes with vertical rather than oblique shading. His serifs are identified by hairlines that form sharp right angles with the upright strokes. In fact, his types are described as open, formal, austere, and free of decoration.
The text type was widely spaced between lines, printed on luxurious paper with intense black ink. Perhaps his most important contribution thought is the regularity that he introduces to his typefaces and the fact that he decided that letters should be created by the combination of a limited number of identical units. This approach marked the end of calligraphy for type design and issued a new era of more industrialized printing techniques. Further on, The Bodoni romans and italics have been extensively copied and have become an essential part of today's typographic equipment, chiefly for newspaper headings, magazines, and promotional printing.
     His books were produced for the wealthy and the aristocracy, and were more advanced in elegance and refinement than anything else being printed in Europe. Altogether, his books with their vast margins and bold display are technical and artistic masterpieces; yet the great undertaken remains dry and cold. Intended more to be admired than used, his publications were often badly inaccurate and difficult to read. Further on, His enormous selection of typefaces (300) was published posthumously in the two-volume Manuale Tipografico (Parma, 1818) by his widow five years later after his death.
 
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Giambattista Bodoni, Parma, 1791
Anacreon: Odes (Greek)
4 x 6
Giambattista Bodoni, Parma, 1791
Horace: Opera
12 x 18.2
Giambattista Bodoni (Widow of), Parma, 1818
Giambattista Bodoni: Manuale Tipografico
8.3 x 11.8
Giambattista Bodoni (Widow of), Parma, 1818
Giambattista Bodoni: Manuale Tipografico
8.3 x 11.8
 
       
© 2004 Natalia Rifai