anthon typographer

In His Footsteps


If I had to describe the typography of Anthon Beeke in one word, it would be “emotional”  — with the exception, oddly, of his most famous typographic work, “Naked Ladies” which is almost clinical in its precision. And while I hesitate to say he was the first to use a number of forms (for even the type made from bodies has very early precedents), he was certainly earlier than most to create type that is being reinvented as “new” even today. It would be difficult in fact to come up with something analog that hadn’t already been done by Anthon Beeke. He may or may not have been first, but he did it before most of us, including myself.

 It is easy to be distracted from the type by his arresting, and sometimes shocking imagery, but if you view all the works in this book again, paying attention to only the typography, you will see it yawp and scratch, sing and warp, flutter, march, spurt and canoodle. Everywhere is the touch of the hand in pen, scissors, crayon and sparkling glam. Seldom just sprinkled on top, the type follows surfaces and planes and integrates so perfectly in the design as a whole that we often forget to notice it. From the Holland Festival 50’s handmade constructions reminiscent of ‘60s Christmas craft projects, to the pristinely sewn ILIAS on the blood-soaked shirt, this is type that touches an emotional chord with its considered force. Let this be a lesson to students taught to type on a keyboard and choose a font from a drop-down list: great typography has so much more heart.

text Marian Bantjes
photo The making off….. Body Type
1969,  photographed by Ed van der Elsken