Wolfgang Weingart – Swiss Typographer and Designer

Wolfgang Weingart (1941 – 2021) was an internationally known graphic designer and typographer. He was dubbed “the father” of New Wave or Swiss Punk typography for his work, classified as Swiss typography.

Early Years

Weingart was born in the Salem Valley, near the German-Swiss border, in 1941. He spent his upbringing in Germany and moved to Lisbon with his family in 1954 after living near Lake Constance for roughly thirteen years.

Education

In April 1958, he returned to Germany. He enrolled at the Merz Academy in Stuttgart, where he studied applied graphic arts for two years. He learnt how to typeset, linocut, and print with woodblocks.

Weingart then completed a three-year typesetting apprenticeship at Ruwe Printing in hot metal hand composition. He met Karl-August Hanke, the firm’s consulting designer, who became his mentor and encouraged him to study in Switzerland.

Biography

Weingart met Emil Ruder and Armin Hofmann in Basel in 1963 and relocated there the following year, enrolling in the Schule fĂĽr Gestaltung Basel as an independent student (Basel School of Design). Hofmann was invited to teach typography at the newly created Kunstgewerbeschule at the school in 1968.

The designers that surrounding Hofmann were less concerned with applying Swiss-style ideals to their work. These style decisions had a significant influence on Weingart, one of the first designers to break free from the stringent rules that had governed Swiss design for decades. As he later wrote, “When I began teaching in 1968, classical, so-called “Swiss typography” (dating from the 1950s), was still commonly practised by designers throughout Switzerland and at our school. My lively, curious, adventurous character was suffocated by its conservative design ideology and strict constraints, and I responded angrily. At the same time, I saw far too many positive aspects of Swiss typography to dismiss it entirely.

I set out to use the excellent aspects of Swiss typography as a foundation from which to pursue completely new typographic frontiers through my instruction.” Weingart taught at Hofmann’s Yale Summer Program in Graphic Design in Brissago, Switzerland, between 1974 and 1996. For over forty years, he lectured and taught widely in Europe, North and South America, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

According to Weingart, “I took ‘Swiss Typography’ as my starting point, but then I blew it apart, never forcing any style upon my students. I never intended to create a ‘style’. It just so happened that the pupils picked up a so-called “Weingart style” and propagated it around, misinterpreting it.”

Recognition

Weingart’s work was included in a retrospective at the Zurich Museum of Design in 2014. Weingart: Typography was the first show in Switzerland to feature his work and the outcomes of his classes.

From 1978 to 1999, he was a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI). From 1970 to 1988, he was on the editorial board of Typographische Monatsblätter magazine. In 2005, MassArt bestowed upon him the honorary title of Doctor of Fine Arts. For his typographic studies and teaching, he was awarded the AIGA Medal in 2013, the design profession’s highest distinction. Weingart was awarded the Swiss Grand Prix of Design by the Federal Office of Culture in 2014 for his lifetime achievements as a designer.

Sources

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, August 4). Wolfgang Weingart. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:57, November 3, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wolfgang_Weingart&oldid=1037148025

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