Causeries typographiques, n° 6. La typographie d'aujourd'hui


Two-page spreads from an experimental typographic pamphlet published in France in 1922. A modernistic advertising blotter (buvard) distributed with the publication at the time gives Claude Dalbanne (1877-1964) and Jean Epstein (1897-1953) as the authors. Epstein is not attributed as such in the pamphlet, but his influence is evident. The pamphlet was printed by Marius Audin (1872-1951). All three protagonists were atypical in their careers. None, obviously were graphic designers for the profession did not yet exist. Dalbanne began as a painter and engraver and later became director of the City of Lyon's local history museum. Epstein was a writer and film-maker. Audin was a self-taught printer-typographer and a very colorful character, successively botanist, court clerk, editor of a weekly legal announcements publication (two in fact), proprietor of a very short-lived avant-garde art gallery, printer, collector and printing historian. His writings and publications - which influenced two generations of French printing and typographical historians - were often highly idiosyncratic and personal, but always perfectly precise in the citation of documentary sources. His reputation, which lives on, as a highly classical typographer is somewhat belied by his taste for pastiche and historical connotation, and is on occasion dynamited by a little known series of highly original publications which he designed, printed and published. La typographie d'aujourd'hui (eng. typography today) was number 6 in a series of eight pamphlets, mostly about Lyonnais printing. Typically - Marius Audin seemed to have a taste for making bibliographers' work difficult - an indeterminate number of unnumbered and undated brochures were published as a prologue and postscript to the ‘officially’ numbered series. Claude Dalbanne was at the time strongly influenced by Marinetti and Futurism, while Epstein was experimenting with avant-garde techniques in his film and writing, particularly non-linear visual narratives. The similarity between La typographie d'aujourd'hui and the work of Emigre and many of its collaborators more than sixty years later is striking - though no doubt absolutely fortuitous.