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“Prague” – Arik Einstein

Contributed by Philipp Messner on Jun 3rd, 2019. Artwork published in .
    “Prague” – Arik Einstein 1
    License: All Rights Reserved.

    The title song of the 7″ single record “פראג” (“Prague”) by Arik Einstein deals with the act of Jan Palach who set himself on fire in Wenceslas Square to protest against the crackdown of the Prague Spring (Pražské jaro) by the Warsaw Pact armies in 1968.

    The font used for the artist’s name and the title on the front cover is Arta Grotesque 9 – a reworking of a lighter, condensed font originally published by Arta (in Israel) and Letraset (internationally) in 1964. On the back cover the bold weight of Narkiss Block is used.

    “Prague” – Arik Einstein 2
    License: All Rights Reserved.
    Grotesque 9 and Grotesque 7 (Letraset catalogue, 1980s)
    License: All Rights Reserved.

    Grotesque 9 and Grotesque 7 (Letraset catalogue, 1980s)

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    • Arta Grotesque
    • Narkiss Block

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    3 Comments on ““Prague” – Arik Einstein”

    1. Jun 3rd, 2019  12:22 pm

      Thank you, Philipp!

      I add some of the info that you provided here:

      [Narkis Block] went farther than its ‘sans-serif’ predecessors (the popular but poorly designed Haim and Aharoni) in the simplification of form, always informed by a calligrapher’s understanding of the structure of a written letter. — Stephen Lubell: “The Hebrew Typeface Designs of Zvi Narkis”, in: Gutenberg Jahrbuch (2003), pp. 217–233

      I wonder whether we should add Arta as a “foundry” (better: typeface publisher). Or is it more akin to a design studio that provided the Hebrew typeface designs to Letraset? Did they distribute fonts in other formats than Letraset, too, e.g. as film? I remember your article on Microgramma Hebrew where you state that the Letraset sheets mention “Copyright by Art and Industry — L. Osheroff”, and that in 1964, Leo and Tamar Osheroff founded “Arta”, a company for the distribution of office and artist supplies with shops in Tel Aviv and Haifa. Would it be accurate to credit Osheroff as the designer of Arta Grotesque?

    2. Jun 3rd, 2019  3:36 pm

      Hi Florian

      I don’t know exactly how production was organized. Osheroff’s company worked closely together with Letraset but in many cases had secured the copyright on their Hebrew faces (a small collection of sheets can be found here) Even though Letraset seems to have been responsable for the production and the distribution outside of Israel. So I guess Arta could be seen as a “foundry” as the transfer letters seemed to be at the heart of their company.

    3. Jun 3rd, 2019  7:14 pm

      Judging from the naming and the shared numerals, Arta’s Grotesque was considered a Hebrew counterpart to Stephenson Blakes’s Grotesque No. 7 and No. 9. Letraset carried Latin versions of No. 7, No. 9, No. 9 Italic, and No. 9 Outline.

      The Hebrew section of Mecanorma’s Graphic Book No. 14 from 1988 shows Arta’s Grotesque 7 (as #963) and the outlined version of Grotesque 9 (as #962). There are no credits – maybe Arta licensed the design to Letraset’s competitor, too, or maybe Mecanorma made a knockoff. Their distribution partner in Israel was Pythagoras Ltd. in Tel Aviv.

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