Jaroslav Benda (1882–1970): Typographic Designs and Letterforms


Jaroslav Benda is one of the extraordinary figures in the history of Czech type design. His extensive lifelong work is based on a strong and distinctive manuscript of original letterforms. Many of his works became crucial touchstones for Czech Cubism and the Art Deco movement. His involvement in building the visual identity of the First Czechoslovak Republic is equally important.

Unfortunately, Benda’s work fell into oblivion for many decades and a comprehensive biography of Benda has never been published. Nearly half a century after his death, this book celebrates Benda, relocates him in type design history, and shares the breadth of his design practice.

A first section outlines Benda's personal and artisitic development, while the second section presents a thorough overview of his work based on numerous examples of his handwritten letterings and classifies it on the basis of dominant similarities with typographic categories into four main groups: sans-serif letterforms, serif letterforms, calligraphic and freehand letterforms, and typeface designs. The book tracks how their expressions transform over the course of Benda’s work, investigating not only common letterform designs on paper, but also on lesser-used materials such as metal, stone, and glass.

A concluding essay evaluates Benda’s typographical work with regard to the present and reflects on the meaning of the present-day search for a “national character” of letterforms. The book closes with a timeline of Benda’s life and a valuable catalogue of his typographic work, reproduced to the greatest possible extent.

The aim of this book is to introduce Benda as an admirable type designer, an excellent graphic artist, and a sensitive book typographer. Include texts by Tomáš Brousil, Petra Dočekalová, Karel Haloun, Šárka Šilarová, Jaroslav Tvrdoň, and Lucie Urbánková.

Conceived by Tomáš Brousil, Petra Dočekalová, Radek Sidun, and Jaroslav Tvrdoň

Edited by Petra Dočekalová

Designed by Radek Sidun

Published by the Academy of Arts Architecture & Design in Prague (UMPRUM), 2021

Softcover, 200 pages, 554 colors images, 9 × 12.5 inches

ISBN: 978-8-08-830839-3

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