SWISS PUNK WEINGART
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He started it all. It was he who ignited the spark of ‘typographic anarchy’ that exploded on the verge of the nineteen nineties. It was he who fathered what was subsequently dubbed ‘Swiss Punk’, ‘New Wave’ or whatever you care to call it—perhaps even post-modernism. His name is Wolfgang Weingart.

Poster, NR.4-Typographic Process

Poster, NR.3

Weingart was born in the midst of the World War II in Germany. Most famous for his experimental, expressive work that broke the mould of classical Swiss typography, Weingart began his typographic career in the early sixties as an apprentice of hand composition at a typesetting firm. He then decided to further his studies at the Basel School of Design in Switzerland, the cradle of classical Swiss typography. Following his rather unsuccessful attempt at completing his course, Armin Hoffmann, who was then the head of the Basel School, invited him to teach there, by the sheer admiration of his work. He has been teaching there ever since and had made extraordinary impact on the contemporary typographic landscape.

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Since the first day when he arrived at Basel as a student, it was clear that Weingart was a rebel. In a class he had with Armin Hoffmann, the students were asked to work on a line composition using ruling pens. Instead of drawing the lines as he was told, he went over to the type shop and made a contraption that he could use to print lines. Weingart’s ingenuity is simply impressive: he took a plank of wood, screwed L-shaped hooks on it in a grid format, then turned them at 0, 45 and 90 degree angles to form compositions, inked it and printed it on a letterpress. He screwed the hooks into the wood at different levels so some received ink at type-high and some did not. Perhaps ‘rebel’ is too harsh of a description – he was simply inquisitive. There is no doubt that Weingart bent the rule of classical Swiss typography—both literally and figuratively.

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Poster, NR.5

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Through his experimentations, Weingart was inventing his own visual language. As former teaching colleague Gregory Vines once wrote: “He pursues an idea until he is sure if it works or not. In the manner of Gutenberg, typesetter, printer and inventor Weingart realizes his publications or posters from beginning to end by himself. He chooses to be involved in the entire process, from the concept to preparation of the film montage for the printer....When looking through the copy camera or while developing film, new ideas and possibilities become evident, even mistakes trigger fascinating possibilities.”

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