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You are here: Home / Conferences / Montréal 2017 / Programme

Materiality as mode in Robert Massin's typographic redesigns of French postwar experimental literature

When Sat 16 Sep 1540
Where UQAM, Cœur des sciences
Who Lauren Johnson
In the 1950s and ’60s in Europe, rationalist modes of typography promoted the value of clear communication. Counter to this dominant trend, French graphic designer and Éditions Gallimard’s first art director Robert Massin generated works of “expressive typography”. His results were described as typographic interpretations, translations, and orchestrations. This presentation looks at the typographic work of Massin from the 1960s, including Raymond Queneau’s Exercices de style of 1963 and Eugène Ionesco’s La Cantatrice chauve of 1964. Massin draws connections between his own work and Geofroy Tory’s early modern typographic treatise the Champ fleury of 1529, in which Tory was instrumental in exercising a break from the hegemony of the Gothic, and outlining new terms for the French language through typography. Rather than approaching typography as a vehicle for speech, Massin’s work navigates the problems of gesture, speech, and writing through typographic acts, calling upon the opacity of typography to demonstrate the opacity of language. This presentation draws on research completed at the Massin archives in Chartres, France, and conversations between the presenter and Massin himself, conducted in January of 2016.

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