The time wasted on the selection of fonts by my son (12 yrs) would be enough for him to write a novel, it makes me scatty that he can be doing his homework for half an hour and not have created a word of actual content, but really likes Garamond. The fault is of course in the size of choice, a quick look at reveals thousands of fonts; some sorted by type (pun intended) so check out the Sci-fi selection or wince at the curly fonts under ‘Fancy’ and generally marvel at the availability of quality procrastination just for a type face. To give you an idea, there are 82 pages of fonts just beginning with the letter ‘F’ and though Futura isn’t among them the Futura handwritten is a nice font. (Link)

In 1927 Paul Renner designed Futura, although he wasn’t a member of the Bauhaus it is noted that his artistic sentiments were similar. It is sans serif which roughly translates as without curly bits and is based in a geometric sense on the circle. Personally I like the lower case ‘a’, have you a favourite letter in Futura?

By James Puckett – Flickr, CC BY 2.0,

The clean lines and ‘open’ type in Futura has proved popular as headline and body text, also it features quite often in film and advertising. And though not as ubiquitous as Helvetica (Max Miedinger 1957) it has a similar feel.

Futurism arrived on the front page of Le Figaro on the 20th February 1909, interesting that an art movement that is conceived and mostly concerned with Italy is printed on a French daily but that is part of its charm(?), it spends its whole time undermining Italy and the Italian past. Fast cars and chrome fins, it really is the old idea of ‘boy’s art’ (?)

There are many aspects of Futurism that today we would balk at, not least the sensibility towards gender equality, to directly quote from the manifesto: “We will glorify war – the world’s only hygiene – militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.” (Link) Almost like an afterthought is the ‘scorn for woman’ as a race, not even ‘women’ as a concept. Many of the other founding rules are more political than aesthetic, Marinetti was trying to destroy and disregard all that had come before, he equates museums to cemeteries, “absurd abattoirs of painters and sculptors ferociously slaughtering each other” and the baggage of the history of the Roman empire and the Renaissance as weight that needs to be discarded to move forward in the machine age.

At roughly the same time, in the UK came the Vorticists, begun by Wyndham Lewis in BLAST! Magazine and though it aspires to capture the dynamism of the world around 1914 and the energy of the age it does not hold the destructiveness central and Lewis was a critic of the Italian version, describing his dislike of the Futurist’s fetish for machinery (link).

Of course the Futurism definition of Art was not one that I have previously included as it is militarist bunkum: “Art, in fact, can be nothing but violence, cruelty, and injustice.” Which covers none of the ideas that I have discussed about what art is and would make me step away from any art that tried to extol nationalism and violence. Futurism itself soon became linked to Mussolini’s Fascism and the undercurrent of nihilism and belief in destroying the past remained Marinetti’s concern until his death, on the fascist’s side, in 1944. But the thoughts underpinning Futurism are as ripe today (100 days til Brexit, rise of populism, Trump) as they ever were. Robert Fox writing in the Guardian (link) on the 100th anniversary of the Figaro manifesto printing warns that ‘only blood and sacrifice’ are tropes that people are moving toward again and that we should be wary of.

“Prediction is difficult, especially about the future” as the Danish proverb goes. What is the future of Art? Despite what the Futurist’s would suggest let’s start by looking back: if we ignore everything up to the renaissance then you can see that the rise and demise of art movements accelerates from the 17th century to the middle of the 20th. (Link)

There have been scientific and cultural times that change art, the revolution of perspective in the renaissance, the loss of landscape to photography (good!) but what is coming next? Is the post-modernism that we are living through just a self defeating label, is post modernism the last named age? Are we now stuck with ironic nods and art without a spiritual centre, a humanist grounding? Will art be an endless regurgitation of forms and maxims from before? Are the Futurists correct in their need to tear down the past?

So Merry winterval/holidays/boxing day to y’all. Yep I’m wishing you a good future but never forget that we have to fight Fascism and all other attempts to hold down any race/gender/people and just try to be nice to each other. Peace out, Gary B’stard

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