Jack W. Stauffacher

American (San Francisco, California, 1920)

Vines Going Mad, from the Vico Wooden Letters portfolio

printed material | relief print with wooden type
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  • Vines Going Mad, from the Vico Wooden Letters portfolio

    Jack W. Stauffacher, Vines Going Mad, from the Vico Wooden Letters portfolio, 2003; relief print with wooden type, 18 in. x 13 in. (45.72 cm x 33.02 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Jack W. Stauffacher

Stauffacher, a printer, book designer, and craftsman based in San Francisco, has experimented with typographical conventions since the 1960s. Playfully employing traditional wood type and a primary color palette, his prints echo the works of Piet Mondrian, El Lissitzky, and László Moholy-Nagy. Arranged in a seemingly random manner, the large letterforms of his compositions hover somewhere between Russian constructivist typography and a visionary graphic landscape.

This portfolio, inspired by the philosophical prose of the Italian humanist and philosopher Giambattista Vico, integrates the familiar, sculptural wooden letters of past experiments with small lines of text — phrases extracted from Vico's greatest work, Scienza Nuova (New Science, 1725) — set by hand in metal type. The semiabstract compositions reveal Stauffacher's profound knowledge and appreciation of both historic typographic traditions and modern design. These intimately physical interactions of hand, type, ink, and paper expand the capabilities of type as a medium not only of communication but also of expression.

18 in. x 13 in. (45.72 cm x 33.02 cm)
Acquired 2004
Collection SFMOMA
Accessions Committee Fund purchase
© Jack W. Stauffacher


red, black, text, numbers, letters

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