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The Last Supper

By Emily King

The relationship between art and typography is long-term and ongoing. For around a century, type has been appearing in art works and the incidence of type in art is certainly on the increase. Broadly speaking artists who use typography fall into two camps: those who use type as language and those who use type as image. Artists in the former camp are likely to be called conceptual. They tend to employ only a single “neutral” font with the purpose of communicating in pure language, language that floats free of specific application. The typefaces used by these artists vary widely: Joseph Kosuth favours Sabon, Douglas Gordon goes for Bembo, Lawrence Weiner chooses Franklin Gothic Condensed Caps and Simon Patterson opts for American Typewriter. Of course these faces do flavour language and in practice, after having been associated with the work of a single artist for some time, they become a de facto typographic identity for that artist. Paint a sentence on the wall in Sabon and you have yourself a DIY Joseph Kosuth.

Contemporary artists in the latter camp, those who use type as image, are likely to be called conceptual too - but that is just because conceptual has become a debased catch-all term. Of course these artists bristle with ideas, but they are ideas that are most properly located in the continuing practice of Pop. Artists such as Ashley Bickerton, who worked with logos in the late 1980s, and Daniel Pflumm, a young German artist who has picked up the logo theme and is running with it right now, are working in the tradition of Andy Warhol and Ed Ruscha. For this kind of art to be successful, the typography that the artist employs must be absolutely right. Artists working in this vein who are happy to use improperly executed or unconvincing logos pay be price by creating weak, ineffective images or installations (see Michael Landy’s Scrapheap Services).

Read full article here: The Last Supper