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The Typography of A.-M. Cassandre

By Peggy Roalf   Friday August 14, 2015


Pascal Béjean, a graphic designer in Paris, works in the digital realm. He produces book and magazine projects that exist as apps, as well as branding and identity programs across multiple mediums, primarily for artistic enterprises. He recently created a new identity and graphics program for Arles 2015: Les Rencontres De La Photographie.

But that does not curb his appreciation for the modern classics, not least the typographic work of A.-M. Cassandre. Cassandre was a prolific commercial poster artist who, from the 1920s onwards, created artwork for L’Étoile du Nord (below), Le Transatlantique, Dubo-Dubon-Dubonnet, and dozens of other companies and campaignsFor each of these posters, he created a special display font, many of which were one-offs.

Through an in-depth exploration of rare type specimen books for fonts produced by the early 20th-century master for the Deberny & Peignot foundry, Béjean offers a glimpse into the apogee of French graphic design one hundred years ago.

D&P, as the foundry is known in France, commissioned Cassandre to design several display typefaces (Bifur and Acier) and a text typeface (Peignot). He considered their impact and legibility in a way that stood the test of time so well that his creations became iconic of their era. 

Bifur, introduced by D&P in 1929, has variations to complete its letterforms that include a second color, or linear components as seen above. it could hardly be more contemporary. In its time, however, this stencil-like industrial-looking font was rarely seen in its 2-color form, as registration on press was something of a nightmare. 

When Béjean first uncovered the type specimen books, these fonts were not accessible, even online. With the September release of Cassandre. Specimens, on Béjean’s Art Book Magazine, designers can see these fonts in their entirety within the context of their time. 

Art Book Magazine is a free French/English iPad app in that showcases ebooks and magazines focused on contemporary art as well as photography, architecture, graphic design, typography, social sciences, literature and digital culture. See the entire catalogue, in English, here. Subscribe to the ABM newsletter here. Visit Pascal Béjean’s design studio here. See  Béjean’s photographs here.

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