Tate Etc. issue 09 cover

You might have noticed that in each issue we choose a different headline typeface.

Our designers have revitalised typographic classics, such as Paul Renner’s ‘Futura Black’ (1929), Roger Excoffon’s ‘Banco’ (1952) and Herb Lubalin’s ‘Serif Gothic’ (1972). In this issue we are using Stephenson Blake’s ‘Sans Serif Shaded’, a 1948 revival of a design first engraved in 1839 by the English type founder William Thorowgood, and subsequently used in various ways, from commercial signwriting to books.

Nowadays typefaces have expanded far beyond the designer’s toolbox. Artists as wide-ranging as Kurt Schwitters, Ed Ruscha, Lawrence Weiner, Christopher Wool and On Kawara have all incorporated the aesthetics of type into their art.

With best regards,

Bice Curiger and Simon Grant



Ralph Ubl

In the 60s and 70s artists changed how they looked at symmetry, particularly using new media such as video. Ralph Ubl looks at the work of Dieter Roth and Joan Jonas

Christopher Wool
Bettina Funcke

Bettina Funcke visits the studio of Christopher Wool, who first became known in the 1980s for paintings composed of short phrases or words stencilled in large blocky letters, often abstracted by omitting vowels. She looks into how it is possible to reproduce paintings that deal with the process of reproduction itself.

Gilbert & George
Wolf Jahn

Gilbert & George have made some iconic images of themselves, and of an alternative English sensibility. Wolf Jahn interviews them.

St. Martin's School of Art
Hester Westley

Hester Westley delves into the archives of St Martin’s School of Art, and finds a project almost forgotten, a teaching experiment in 1969 where twelve individuals, among them Richard Deacon, were locked in an empty white room, observed and in silence, designed to ‘liberate’ the participants into a fresh understanding. 37 years on, the participants still deliberate over the value of their unconventional student years.

John Carlin

William Hogarth was one of the founders of a satire that led all the way to the modern comic book and was described as the grandfather of the political cartoon. John Carlin traces this lineage using American comics first printed in Sunday newspaper supplements 100 years ago, through Krazy Kat and Popeye to the flattened muscular figures of Captain America, Hulk and X-Men.

William Hogarth
Martin Rowson

William Hogarth was one of the founders of a satire that led all the way to the modern comic book and was described as the grandfather of the political cartoon. Martin Rowson revisits Hogarth’s most political details such as Gin Lane.

Mark Wallinger
Christy Lange

When, in 2003, magician David Blaine starved himself in a Plexiglas box suspended above the Thames, hecklers pelted him with kebabs. In 2004 Mark Wallinger stayed in Berlin’s Nueue Nationalgalerie for nine nights in a bear suit, and a small group of viewers such as Christy Lange peered at him alone in the museum. Christy reflects on Sleeper.

George Grosz
Mario Vargas Llosa

George Grosz gave a fantastic testimony of Berlin life during a terrible period, divided between fascism and communism. He was active in the communist party but had an anarchist’s fascination for the characters of underground life. Military figures, prostitutes and violence abound, and fascinate the viewer.

Keith Miller

In folk tales, Gothic novels and film noir, shadows are premonitions, harbingers of threat and death. Western painting and its literature has tended to set shadow seemingly contrasting tasks: to define yet blur form. Keith Miller explores the use of shadows also to create mood, from Holman Hunt’s Jesus figure to the installations of Tim Noble and Sue Webster.

J.M.W. Turner
Katharina Fritsch

During a visit to Tate Britain, Katharina Fritsch finds herself ‘sucked into’ the allure and eccentric character of J.M.W. Turner’s War. The Exile and the Rock Limpet. Reminded of James Ensor’s paintings of the beach at Ostend, she explores the portrayal of Napoleon, his river reflection grossly elongating a figure known to be short and solid.

T.J. Demos

The ability to play with time, stretching and quickening it is a distinctively modern phenomenon, since the advent of photography in the twentieth century, and the idea of mathematical time introduced with the emergence of secular humanism after the Enlightenment. T.J. Demos explores this through the work of Sam Taylor-Wood, Tacita Dean and others.

Richard Shelton, Dai Qing, Mike Hulme and Paulo Barreto

Climate change is the biggest challenge facing the world. Rising ocean temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are clear signs, as David Attenborough has said, that our planet Earth is ‘changing more extremely and swiftly than at any time in the past several million years’. Four leading environmentalists outline their concerns to Tate Etc. taking their cue from a work in the Tate collection.

Behind the curtain
John Burnside

In his second visit to the Tate archive, John Burnside reflects on the death certificate of Kurt Schwitters.

Kate Davis

Kate Davis reflects on Eileen Agar’s Angel of Anarchy 1936–40


Vija Celmins
Simon Grant1 and Vija Celmins

Vija Celmins was born in Latvia in 1938, fled with her family to Germany in advance of the Soviet army in 1944 and emigrated to the USA in 1948. Since the early 1960s she has made intricate black-and-white drawings of a small range of subjects – seascapes, night skies, the desert floor – some of which have taken a year to complete. This exclusive interview coincided with her drawings retrospective at the Pompidou Centre, Paris.