Fascism on the Facade (2004)

Once again, I have stumbled across an old article of mine online. It is “Fascism on the Facade” in Print LVIII:III May/June 2004, the 2004 European Design Annual. It can be found on the website (under Lesson Plans) of graphic designer Brian R. Williams as part of his course “Defeating the Ideal: Art and Propaganda, from the Third Reich to the CIA” (HNLA101). I am adding the PDF of the article here Fascism on the Facade-Shaw and also displaying the pages.

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The images are all analog. The black and white photographs are all by Jakob Straub (not Jacob Straub as the credit says). The color photographs are slides I took between 1995 and 2002. Below are some digital photographs I have taken of Fascist inscriptions since 2005. They show four different approaches to sans serif lettering in the 1930s: Art Deco, idiosyncratic, modular and geometric.

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Detail from a Fascist monument in Arezzo to those who fought in World War I. The sans serif capitals are Art Deco in style. Note the erased date MCMXXXVI–XIV E.F. at the bottom right (the 14th year of the Eta Fascista or Fascist era).

Questura (Naples) (1940 but designed between 1935 and 1938).

Palazzo della Questura (Naples) (1935–1937). The elongated sans serif letters have some odd touches such as the curly tail of the Q and the angled terminals of the S. The three stripes were formerly fasces. (The Questura is the headquarters of the Polizio di Stato or State Police.)

Detail of lettering on the facade of the Opera Balilla (Latina). Latina, established in 1932, was originally named Littoria.

Detail of lettering on the facade of the Opera Nazionale Balilla (Latina, Oriolo Frezzotti, 1932). Latina, established in 1932, was originally named Littoria. The letters are all fitted into identical rectangles with the exception of the I. (There is no explanation for the omission of Nazionale.)

Piscina Comunale Coperta ROberto Cozzi (Milano, Luigi Secchi, 1933–1935

Piscina Comunale Coperta Roberto Cozzi (Milano, Luigi Secchi, 1933–1935). The lettering is inspired by Futura which was used in the German Pavilion, designed by Paul Renner, for the V Triennale di Milano in 1933.