DaN FrieDMaN

March 14, 2006

Dan Friedman

New York, June 1994

What do you thinkabout the state of design today?
Is graphic design pervasive throughout society, or is it virtually non-existant? I've been asking this question for quite a long time, and I don't know how to answer it. We want people to be aware of what makes it different and worthwhlie, and yet we also want to be inclusive in our definition of "design"...

There's so much in-fighting among the members of the "edge"-a frenzy about originality.It reminds me of the stuff that would go on during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Wolfgang Weingart was infuriates that everyone was ripping him off. He was a spoiled brat, but I think he deserves the ultimate credit for the "new typography."

Describe the connection between you, April Greiman, and Wolfgang Weingart.
In a nutshell: I went to study in Ulm in 1967. I had gotten a Fullbright to go to Germany, even though I really wanted to go to Basel. I became fascinated with the theoretical approach at Ulm. At Basel, in 1968, they had just started the post-graduate program. I wanted to be in the first class. I was one of two Americans, and Weingart had just started teaching there. He was young about my age. Our relationship was more as a friends than as a student/teacher relationship. But it is important to say that I was influenced by him. He was reacting against rational Swiss typography, the work of tyhe previous generation...

Unlike Weingart, I wasn't reacting against Swiss typography, because that rational system didn't really exist here in the united States except in isolated instances. Whereas Wolfgang Weingart was teaching based on intuition, I was trying to verbalize, demystify, the structures of typography. I wanted to create a method. I had to find a way to teach the rules and also how to break them at the same time, since nobody knew the rules.

When Wolfgang started lecturing and teaching in the United States in early 1970s, he realized he needed to construct a methodology, too. I believe my work was a useful model fo him in that respect...

In 1972, I was teaching one day a week at PCA (Philadelphia College of Art, now the University of the Arts), flying down to Philadelphia from New Haven. Louis Kahn and I took the same flight. That's when I met April...She had just come back from Switzerland, where she had studied for one year. She wasn't happy there, except in Weingart's classes. She had been aware of my work through Weingart, and we became friendly during the second semester at PCA. From the very beginning, I had discussions with her about vher intuitive approach to typography. She was intuitive like Weingart. He had even done a cover of TM Magazine with her picture on it, saying "I feel typography." I thought that was kind a crny.

Often, I would play devil's advocate with April, arguing for a more rigorous methodological approach, especially in teaching. April continues to work from an intuitive base, and, like Weingart, she has excellent intuitions. BUt I'm still hung up on content. She would say that there is content in the form. And I would say, yes, but it's a very limited means of expressing content. Consider minimalist painting, such as Albers:there is implicit meaning there. But that's a very territory to work in. It limits the kind of content you can deal with.

I still follow April's work. She sees Calofornia as a place somewhere in outspace, moved by primal spirits. I see it as a place where there are earthquekes, mudslides, and gang warfare. As she sees it, her "heavenly hyperspace" has meaning in it-Jungian psychology, spiritual issues but to me it's limited in its ability to deal with other kind of issues....It's hypocritical for me to citicize it too much,though, because I'm often guilty of the same thing. The differece is, I keep it in my own apertment.


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