Learning from Letterforms, Past & Present
September 25–December 15, 2017
A letter is the smallest unit in an alphabetic system of writing, though this is only one of many systems for recording and transmitting language. Letterforms also have meaning beyond the speech sounds they represent. Their formal and material qualities bear witness to a long tradition of abstract symbols enabling the exchange of ideas. The flourish of a pen stroke or particular angle of a serif reveals technological constraints and stylistic conventions. The lines of letterforms are marks of re-creation, refinement, and reinterpretation.
This exhibition features examples from the many resources available in Arts Library Special Collections for the exploration and study of letterforms. These include both historical and contemporary type specimens, penmanship copybooks, and graphic identity manuals as well as broadsides, bookplates, and artists’ books.