Beyond the Archive

Beyond the Archive

Exhibition at Klingspor Museum

Author: Franzi Haeussner

Students at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach have taken a close look at the type specimens in the Klingspor Museum. From March 12th to May 29th, 2022, the exhibition Beyond the Archive will show historical objects from the early 20th century from the Gebr. Klingspor’s archive.

Offenbach was home to the Gebr. Klingspor, an internationally renowned type foundry that set standards with its artistic standards and is still a household name today. Their estate forms one of the core holdings of the Klingspor Museum archive. Approximately 60 cassettes contain larger and smaller historical objects from the early 20th century: Preliminary sketches and correspondence that bear witness to the creation of typefaces still known today, as well as artistically designed type specimens that advertised the finished products.

The exhibition directs today’s attention to this archive and the material stored in it. How can it be questioned in a new way? And what can we still learn from it today? Using questions like these, a small group of typography students and graduates of the Hochschule für Gestaltung spent almost a year investigating the history of the former type foundry Gebr. Klingspor, often finding new questions instead of answers, and uncovering a great deal of exciting material along the way that they had not been looking for. The result of this exploration is the exhibition curated and designed by the students.

From the Art Nouveau typefaces of Otto Eckmann or Peter Behrens to the calligraphic-looking Fraktur fonts of Rudolf Koch, selected works of the typeface artists at Klingspor and their backgrounds are shown. But even beyond these big names, the exhibition explores interesting stories surrounding the creation of typefaces—a complex process that could only be realized through the cooperation of many people. Using a wide variety of objects, the exhibition takes a look at typeface design and its social and political contexts. The ambivalences during the Nazi era are also part of this picture. Beyond the archive, the work of Gebr. Klingspor is brought to life here in its richness of form and complexity.

A closer connection between the university and the museum has already existed for four years in the Klingspor Institute for Type Design. In this context, in addition to the exhibition, the historical stock of Klingspor type specimens is being digitized. In the future, this previously uncatalogued stock will be accessible online via a platform, the Klingspor Type Archive, which will be presented for the first time at the exhibition.

Beyond the Archive

From March 12th to May 29th, 2022
Opening: March 11th, 2022, 7 p.m.

Klingspor Museum
Herrnstraße 80 
63065 Offenbach am Main

Photo: Turbo Type

Beyond the Archive