May 13, 2021 - Sale 2568

Sale 2568 - Lot 247

Price Realized: $ 12,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 10,000 - $ 15,000

HERBERT BAYER (1900-1985)

UNIVERSAL TYPE / BREIT HALBFETT. Ink and gouache maquette. Circa 1925.

9 1/4x12 1/2 inches, 23 1/2x31 3/4 cm.
Condition A-: ink, pencil and correction fluid on paper, affixed to artist board, with cracking and repairs on verso; Bayer's handwritten notes in pencil as well as typewriter text insert at bottom; small holes in corners of board for hanging; dated 1925 on verso; hinged to mat. Matted and framed.

"In 1925, [Walter] Gropius commissioned Bayer to design a typeface for all Bauhaus communications . . . He used his approach to modern typography to create an 'idealist typeface" ( This hand-drawn and notated maquette appears to be the exact template used for the Universal Type image published in MoMA's 1938 exhibition catalogue Bauhaus 1919-1928. The typeface displayed is captioned as "Universal type, characters at base show bold, medium and light weights, 1925. Improved 1928."
The rendering of this typeface (with the same spacing and formatting as this maquette) was also reprinted in PM Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 2, December 1939, an issue that was designed by and featuring Bayer. In the article about Universal Type, Bayer details his requirements for a new alphabet, including the "geometric foundation of each letter," avoidance of hand-written elements, like up and down strokes, and varying thickness, and simplification of forms to the most basic. "Banishing diagonals wherever possible, he constructed characters such as "k" and "x" with circular segments in place of the expected angles" (Modernity p. 200). Perhaps most noticeable in this new alphabet, is the absence of capitalized letters. Two other ink and guache maquettes for Univeral lettering are in the collections of the Harvard Art Museum (Modernity p. 201).