Wim Crouwel

New Alphabet

1967
Not on view
Medium
Digital typeface
Dimensions
Variable
Credit
Gift of Foundry Types Ltd.
Object number
1072.2010
Copyright
© 2015 Foundry Types Ltd.
Department
Architecture and Design

In the infancy of digital typography—as lead type, set by hand in heavy lead blocks or by machines that generated lines of metal type, was giving way to text set on screens—Crouwel saw an opportunity for an interesting experiment. Early computer screens—cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors—rendered images in fairly large pixels, making traditional curvilinear letterforms difficult to reconstruct, and so Crouwel set out to redesign the alphabet using only horizontal lines. New Alphabet is, in Crouwel's words, "over-the-top and never meant to be really used," a statement on the impact of new technologies on centuries of typographic tradition. In 1988, however, Peter Saville Associates used a stylized version of the font on the cover of Substance, an album for the band Joy Division. New Alphabet was digitized for contemporary use in 1997 by Freda Sack and David Quay of The Foundry, closely based on Crouwel's original studies.

Gallery label from Standard Deviations, 2011

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource