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The Indépendant, a Typeface as Period Document

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[The Indépendant is a modish display type from 1930 which was cast in Brussels by Etablissements Plantin, the Belgian branch of the Dutch company 'Lettergieterij Amsterdam' (Amsterdam Type Foundry). The typeface was designed by G. Collette and J. Dufour, probably by using matrices that were engraved in the Netherlands. It is the only hot-metal typeface which was created in Belgium in the twentieth century and the history of this design provides an interesting point of departure for the historiography of graphic design in Belgium during the interwar period. Because nothing is known about the designer duo Collette and Dufour and there exist no other typeface creations of theirs, it is sometimes suggested that the Indépendant might be based on a German source of inspiration. Research has shown that sure enough it is an original design, to which Henry van de Velde also reacted enthusiastically. By referring with its name to the hundredth anniversary of the national independance, the Indépendant set itself up as a concept specific to Belgium. However, the typeface fits into a much larger picture and is linked up with the international predilection for reduction and standardization of the modernists. But more than anything else the Indépendant is an art deco typeface which sought to conquer the market by responding to a generally felt need for heavier display types which had arisen in the late twenties both in America and in Europe. The Indépendant was however not an innovating design, but the typographic transformation of a trendy letter form which had been in existence for a longer period of time in other contexts and disciplines. Not surprisingly, it soon passed into disuse., The Indépendant is a modish display type from 1930 which was cast in Brussels by Etablissements Plantin, the Belgian branch of the Dutch company 'Lettergieterij Amsterdam' (Amsterdam Type Foundry). The typeface was designed by G. Collette and J. Dufour, probably by using matrices that were engraved in the Netherlands. It is the only hot-metal typeface which was created in Belgium in the twentieth century and the history of this design provides an interesting point of departure for the historiography of graphic design in Belgium during the interwar period. Because nothing is known about the designer duo Collette and Dufour and there exist no other typeface creations of theirs, it is sometimes suggested that the Indépendant might be based on a German source of inspiration. Research has shown that sure enough it is an original design, to which Henry van de Velde also reacted enthusiastically. By referring with its name to the hundredth anniversary of the national independance, the Indépendant set itself up as a concept specific to Belgium. However, the typeface fits into a much larger picture and is linked up with the international predilection for reduction and standardization of the modernists. But more than anything else the Indépendant is an art deco typeface which sought to conquer the market by responding to a generally felt need for heavier display types which had arisen in the late twenties both in America and in Europe. The Indépendant was however not an innovating design, but the typographic transformation of a trendy letter form which had been in existence for a longer period of time in other contexts and disciplines. Not surprisingly, it soon passed into disuse.]

Affiliations: 1: Ghent University, College of Visual Arts Sint Lucas, Belgium

10.1163/157006907X247219
/content/journals/10.1163/157006907x247219
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/content/journals/10.1163/157006907x247219
2008-04-01
2016-12-11

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