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The Chinese Exhibition

Contributed by Ezra Fike on Sep 5th, 2019. Artwork published in .
    Catalogue, front cover using partially tight set Helvetica.
    Photo: Ezra Fike. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Catalogue, front cover using partially tight set Helvetica.

    Two catalogues and a pamphlet for The Chinese Exhibition – The Exhibition of Archaeological Finds of The People’s Republic of China, a travelling exhibition that was shown at various galleries and museums throughout the United States in 1974 – 75.

    From A Compendium to Museum Studies (Ed. Sharon Macdonald):

    Communist China, after its 1949 takeover, signaled a new diplomacy with America to its threatening neighbors, beginning with tours of lightning-speed games of “ping-pong” in 1971. A quarter-century after World War II ended and the Cold War began, President Richard Nixon’s visit famously “opened” American diplomatic relations with China in 1972.

    In 1974, China sent the first of many exhibitions of national treasures to solidify its new diplomacy with America and to encourage positive public opinion during the Cold War matches. The Chinese Exhibition: The Exhibition of Archaeological Finds of the People’s Republic of China traveled to the East Coast in December 1974, to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; then to middle America, at the Nelson Gallery-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri; and ended its tour, in August 1975, at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, on the West Coast of California (personal communication, Barry Till 2004).

    A rare archaeological find, which the press called the “Jade Lady,” excited much admiration. Her mortuary suit from the second century bc was made of more than two thousand pieces of jade. It was sewn with gold thread by Western Han Dynasty master craftsmen for Princess Dou Wan. It was widely published and illustrated, an indication of the “Jade Lady’s” success in capturing the public’s imagination across America.

    Catalogue, front cover using partially tight set Helvetica.
    Photo: Ezra Fike. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Catalogue interior, using Optima throughout.

    Catalogue, front cover using partially tight set Helvetica.
    License: All Rights Reserved.

    A second catalogue shows miniature horsemen, as found in a grave. Typography (Latin part) uses Trump Mediaeval.

    Catalogue, front cover using partially tight set Helvetica.
    Photo: Ezra Fike. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Pamphlet, front cover, using the same photograph (and type) as the catalogue, but with additional information.

    Catalogue, front cover using partially tight set Helvetica.
    Photo: Ezra Fike. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Pamphlet, interior, using Optima, just like the catalogue.

    Typefaces

    • Helvetica
    • Optima
    • Trump Mediaeval

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    2 Comments on “The Chinese Exhibition

    1. Sep 14th, 2019  12:56 am

      Why do you think the crossbars of cap E and F in the u/lc subtitle on the cover are so much shorter than the E’s in the all-cap title? Could the designer have shortened them with an X-acto?

    2. Sep 14th, 2019  10:59 am

      Good eye, Chris! Yes, this looks like a customization. As for the motivation, Helvetica’s caps are relatively wide, and I can see why one would want to make them narrower in mixed case and reduce the contained whitespace, especially with this tight-not-touching treatment. Trimming is easy with the straight lines of E and F; less so with R or C.

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