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Posted April 27, 2007
There are aspects of everyday common sights that, despite the questions that may have been raised on first glance, become taken for granted - until someone (author Cristina Paoli in this instance) makes us stop to notice and learn. Such is the case with this superb book, another in the series of font studies from Mark Batty Publisher, that is a scholarly yet highly entertaining introduction to the fascinating field of graphic art. 'Blackletter' is a form of font or hand-painted lettering that had its origin in the 11th century. Though difficult to describe in words (the letters are graced with curls, broken and reconstructed, etc), the typeface has persisted through the centuries as a means of calling attention to the grandeur of the written word, first in Biblical use and latter in widely varying degrees from Nazi posters and books to world wide newspaper titles. But author/designer Cristina Paoli elects to study the unique use of blackletter in Mexico and thus in the migrated forms into this country. As she states 'There are many explanations for why blackletter is popular in Mexico. The country's overwhelming colonial Spanish background is still present today, not only in the collective unconscious, but also in buildings, plazas and entire cities, some of which use blackletter in their signage to appeal to tourists, who visit these places to see colonial remnants'. She then proceeds to show us how black letter is associated with Christianity 'from divine elegance to exuberant transcendence', but also in the signage of the little shops seeking importance of appearance, in graffiti, in tattoos, and in the decor for fiestas and celebrations. It is an important national symbol. The book is generously illustrated with examples of the use of blackletter on buildings and in every form in which it exists. Along with the rich color photographs are many scholarly notes on particular variations in the adaptation of blackletter into widely used fonts. For those involved in the field of graphic design this book is the definitive volume on an important advance in communication deeply influenced by design. But for the rest of us it is a well written, beautifully designed art book that leads us into an appreciation for an aspect of Mexican culture that once again proves that the common use of an overlooked element opens doors to understanding and appreciation for the art that is all around us! Highly Recommended. Grady HarpWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.