The famous historian of type Robert Bringhurst has just published a book about the humble Palatino typeface. In an interview with Steven Heller, a discussion of how this particular typeface, and its creator Herman Zapf, rates its own volume leads to some provocative ideas on how art can be viewed as a part of natural history:
“I’m not a big fan of the colonial-industrial mindset: the view that human beings are masters of the universe, children of God and pretty much unrelated and unbeholden to anything else. Humans are animals, and we are, like all animals, good at some things, lousy at others. We can run, for instance, but not as well as deer, and we can swim, but not as well as trout. We can climb trees, but not as well as monkeys. Compared with most other creatures, however, we can talk and draw pretty good.
In fact, making art appears to be part of our nature. Humans do it wherever you find them. If art is a natural activity, then the history of art is really and truly a branch of natural history. Maybe this is easier for people to think about if we focus first on calligraphy and typography rather than representational art.”
Read the interview here.