Thursday, February 7, 2019

Manutius' amazingHypnerotomachia Poliphili

Edition of Hypnerotomachia poliphili (1499), printed by Aldus Manutius in Venice, considered the first "modern book", composed of Roman characters (and Greek), illustrated in black and white. Hypnerotomachia is considered by some as one of the most beautiful books ever published. 

there are a total of 168 exquisite woodcuts showing the scenery, architectural settings, and some of the characters Poliphilo encounters in his dreams (pursuing Polia's love). they depict scenes from Poliphilo's adventures, or the architectural features over which the text rhapsodizes, in a simultaneously stark and ornate line art style which perfectly integrates with the type. these images are also interesting because they shed light on what people in the renaissance fancied about the alleged ├Žsthetic qualities of greek and roman antiquities.

let's take a look:  

1. cinematic visual logic!
2. decorated initials (an amazing florid and leafy detail job by Manutius)

3. so-called Technopaegnia: besides displaying a remarkable level of visual culture and clarity, the Hypnerotomachia must also be seen as an extraordinary visual-typographical-textual "assemblage" of a type not repeated until the avant-garde books of the 1920s and 1930s. among its feats of typographical ingenuity, the form of goblets and drinking vessels is reproduced in the layout of the text in the page.

4. then there is the the Bembo lower typeface:

  a good Manutius site (in French).