The Newberry is pleased to announce the launch of A Meditation in Rome, the latest book by curator Paul Gehl.
Comprising the script from which Paul Gehl gave his address, How Can Type History Be Good History? to a plenary session of ATypI Roma, A Meditation in Rome is an insightful exploration of historical honesty in typographic revivalism. Gehl, a specialist on the history of printing and the book arts, argues that it is important for designers to understand the history of letter forms so that they can contextualize the types they use today. This is true whether they are using brand-new, old, or revival typefaces. In his talk, Gehl develops this idea by considering the way in which a single example of lettering –the inscription on the façade of the Pantheon in Rome—has changed across time.
The book was produced by renowned type designer and fine printer Russell Maret and is illustrated with historical imagery, typographic comparisons, and a large, fold-out photograph of the Pantheon by Annie Schlechter. Set in the digital versions of Maret’s own types, Gremolata and Cancellaresca Milanese, the book was printed from polymer plates; its binding features a cover paper that is printed letterpress from a new metal type ornament that Maret designed specifically for the book.
“Over the years, the meaning of the inscription on the Pantheon has changed; in fact, the vast majority of people who have seen it over the centuries either misunderstood it or did not read it at all,” Gehl said. “It is easy to admire the letters without knowing what they mean, but the experience is immensely richer if you can recover some of the historical context.”
Gehl and Maret will launch the book at a reception at the Newberry at 12:30 pm Saturday, June 2. Books will be available for purchase at the event, which also will feature brief remarks by the author and designer, and light refreshments.
The reception will directly follow the annual American Printing History Association’s Lieberman Lecture, also held at the Newberry and to be delivered by Maret. His talk, “Time, Technology, and the Shapes of Letters,” will discuss Maret’s recent attempts to apply digital drafting technology to Industrial-era manufacturing processes to create new, historically inspired typefaces for letterpress printing.
Paul F. Gehl is the Custodian of the John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing at the Newberry. As such, he is responsible for one of the largest collections on printing history, calligraphy, and design in North America. He is also a historian of education. He has published extensively on manuscript and printed textbooks of the Renaissance, on the book trade, and on modern fine printing and artist’s books. His interactive online monograph, entitled Humanism For Sale: Making and Marketing Schoolbooks in Renaissance Italy, has been hosted by the Newberry’s Center for Renaissance Studies since 2008.
Russell Maret is a type designer and private press printer working in New York City. He is the current North American Chair of the Fine Press Book Association. In 2009 he was awarded the Rome Prize in Design from the American Academy in Rome to study classical vernacular lettering. His books and manuscripts are collected by many of the world’s great libraries, including the Library of Congress, the Newberry, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Bodleian. The American Academy in Rome invites applications for the Rome Prize competition. One of the leading overseas centers for independent study and advanced research in the arts and the humanities, the Academy offers up to thirty fellowships for periods ranging from six months to two years.
The American Printing History Association (APHA) is a membership organization that encourages the study of the history of printing and related arts and crafts, including calligraphy, typefounding, typography, papermaking, bookbinding, illustration, and publishing. The annual Lieberman Lecture commemorates J. Ben Lieberman (1914–1984), founder and first president of the American Printing History Association.