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abedecario. An original anthology for the history of 20th-century graphic design

The volume abecedario. La grafica del Novecento by Sergio Polano and Pierpaolo Vetta, published in 2002 for Electa, is considered a “classic” in the history of 20th-century graphic design for at least two reasons. On the one hand, for the credibility of its authors who, with their editorial choices, have defined a methodological model for the treatment of both textual content and images; on the other, for the success that it continues to have among professionals, researchers and students alike:  today we are at the seventh reprint. All this without being a proper survey book on history. Indeed, as Sergio Polano repeatedly stresses in the preface, the book is an anthology of essays, a collection of partially published works.

This contribution considers that the originality of the volume lies in the very act of recollecting these writings; the volume in fact analyses some of the texts previously published in the magazine Casabella, which, from the mid-nineties under the new direction of Francesco Dal Co, became one of the places in which the debate on the historical and critical issues of graphic design took place. Moreover, the paper explores the genesis of the project – precisely in the special integration between texts and iconography; it analises the central role of typography in Polano’s own approach to the theme, as the structural unit of graphic design; finally, it makes a comparison between abecedario and its sequel sussidiario. Grafica e caratteri moderni, placing them in the different historical moments in which they were respectively published.

Questo articolo è disponibile in Italiano

Questo articolo è stato pubblicato in AIS/Design Storia e Ricerche, numero 11 2018

Monica Pastore

Monica Pastore is a graphic designer, lecturer and researcher of graphic design.
Next to her work as a designer with Officina 3am, the communication studio she founded in 2010 with Anna Saccani and Anna Silvestri, she carries out an academic career, starting as teaching assistant and then becoming a lecturer at several Italian and international design universities.
Since 2008, she has carried on her work combining both historical, theoretical and practical aspects of graphic design. She is currently a PhD candidate in Design Sciences at Iuav University of Venice, where she is researching on the history of Italian graphic design.

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