Typography of Hiromu Hara Exhibition

Kenya Hara /Naomichi Kawahata
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In the first half, I would like to show you slides of the changes in modern typography in Europe from the time when Hiromu Hara was being influenced to now. There were many art movements in the 20th century. Letters changed with them. Letters before modernism were language itself. The first consideration in typography was to include them in pivotal books and have them carried compactly. After modernism, the potentials of such letters were focussed on. They then blossomed. With many methodologies such as the abstract and reductionism, people became aware of the characteristics of letters. From another perspective, in addition to the abstract and the reductionism, there is the dissimilation. When foreigners look at hiragana letters, for example, they transform into something strange and unknown. Dissimilation is intentionally including them in the formative process.
Looking at individual examples, first there was Marinetti, the futurist; Aleksandr M.Rodtschenko, the Russian constructivist; Guillaume Apollinaire, the poet; Russia's El Lissitzky; the Dutch Piet Zwart; Tristan Tzara, the Dadaist; L.Moholy-Nagy of the Bauhaus; and Jan Tschichold, who is called the founder of new typography. Swiss typography developed Tschichold and Bauhaus elements in the 1950's. In concrete poetry, the works of the Swiss and the Germans received much attention. American typography made the formed letters, promoted by the Swiss blossom in the world of commercials. Many of the early Japanese graphic designers were influenced by American typography but their roots were in Europe. I included Kohei Sugiura's work to typify Japan. He closely followed the transitions in the European art movements and at some point began to wake up to Asian typography. I think Mr. Hara was also observing with the thought that bringing European ideas directly to Japan would not work well. There is a wonderful bound book called "Enku". People who see it think that this is typography for the Japanese but there is a long, painful history there.
Finally, Japanese typography was not that of the West but later work that found its place and settled solidly down.
In cooperating with this exhibition, I also had the desire to look back at Hiromu Hara's other activities, those of the 1920's and 1930's, that weren't included in his collective works, "The Works of Hiromu Hara". Hiromu Hara was born in Iida City in Nagano Prefecture in 1903. His family had a printing business called "Hakkodo". He went to Tokyo alone when he was 15 and enrolled in the printing department (later the plate-making and printing department) of the Tokyo Prefectural School of Technology. He stayed at the school as an assistant after graduation. From 1925 to 1930 was the New Art Movement that Hiromu Hara was interested in. Just around that time, Hiromu Hara encountered the new typography movement in Europe. Hiromu Hara first showed this interest of his in a paper, "New Trends in Typographic Designs in Europe" (1929). It was supported by Tschichold's typographic arguments. That interest of his intensified with a pamphlet called "die neue typografie" (1931). In its preface, Hiromu Hara says that we should not copy Europe but have a new typography suited to our language. He advocated the use of Mincho type that has the same possibilities as Sans Serif type. Hiromu Hara adopted two points from Tschichold. His primary focus is making explicit layouts and communicating in accordance with the times. Photographs were an important issue in these activities of his. The feelings about typography in those days was that photography, which had begun to rear its head, should be part of typography. Hiromu Hara also wrote about the typofoto theory in a magazine called "Koga".
In 1933, a master of photography, Yonosuke Natori, came back from Germany and made the Japan Studio. Hiromu Hara also participated in this. Hiromu Hara's most important activity was a reportage photo exhibition (1934). He learned how to practically compile a German graphic magazine from the master. Just after this exhibition, however, the Japan Studio broke up and Hiromu Hara made the Chuo Studio. One of his representative works from this period was the "Photographic poster", which he made with Ihei Kimura. It was a time when he was practically involved in the issue of photograph and typography. During this same period, he also started a group called the Tokyo Printing Artists' Circle and advocated "Typographic poster".
On the other hand, an organization called the Japan Photo Service was formed within the Chuo Studio. Here, he became deeply involved in foreign advertising. They also did the photographic fresco for the Paris Exposition and designs for the Tokyo Olympics (scheduled to open in 1940). He also joined an organization called the Western Printing Research Association in 1940 and deepened his friendships with people who would become central figures in western publishing in Japan after the war. After all these activities came the famous foreign advertising magazine, "FRONT".
Hiromu Hara's experiments from before the war also continued just after the war ended. This is evident in his first job after the war, a photographic picture book called the "Pictorial Alphabet ". Binding, that he started thereafter, became a turning point. The Hiromu Hara that everyone knows so well gradually took shape after that.
This may be presumptuous but Hiromu Hara was a very clumsy designer. That clumsiness and his silence was his strength as a designer.
Lecture scenery
Lecture scenery

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