Matthew Carter Bell Centennial 1976-1978

  • Not on view

Matthew Carter's career coincided with dramatic technological developments in typeface design brought about by the spread of computers as universal design and production tools. Carter began when typefaces were families of lead blocks, one for each character or punctuation mark, and a series of blocks for each style and for each point size, and then moved seamlessly to the digital realm when commissioned by the telecom company AT&T. On the company's hundredth anniversary, Carter created Bell Centennial, a typeface designed to solve a technical and aesthetic problem introduced by changing technology. Bell Gothic, the company's existing typeface, had been designed for use on a linotype printing press, and its letterforms became eroded when run through the new offset presses, especially when used in lighter weights. Printers attempted to correct the problem by adding more ink, overcoating the type and making the letters harder to read. Using CRT composition, Carter increased the widths of the letters to prevent the separation of strokes (where the leg of an h meets its stem, for example) or the crowding of letters at small sizes. Carter also compensated for the thin ink and cheap newsprint used for phonebooks by creating "ink traps" where the strokes of the letters come together; they fill in with ink, creating a well-formed (not over-inked) letter.

Gallery label from Standard Deviations, 2011.
Medium
Digital typeface
Dimensions
Variable
Credit
Gift of Monotype Imaging, Inc.
Object number
1065.2010
Copyright
© 2019 Monotype Imaging, Inc.
Department
Architecture and Design

Installation views

MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos.

If you notice an error, please contact us at digital@moma.org.

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.