framing fraktur:
pennsylvania german material culture
and contemporary art

Framing Fraktur:
Pennsylvania German Material Culture and Contemporary Art

edited by Judith Tannenbaum
8 x 10 in., 104 pp., 110 color illus.
Free Library of Philadelphia, 2015

This Pew Foundation–funded exhibition, catalogue, and public programming project presented a bold pairing of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s magnificent collection of fraktur documents with a keen selection of contemporary artwork similarly exploring the potential of text-based image-making. 

One of the featured contemporary artists was commissioned to create a fraktur-based exhibition identity system. This consisted of a “kit of parts” with graphic elements in four flat colors that could be reconfigured as needed for publications, signage, and promotional materials. The catalogue cover design is based on this system. Paper-laminated boards evoke classic library bindings and create a sturdy and distinctive object.

Inside, the book design accommodates a scholarly introduction to the intricate 18th- and 19th-century fraktur documents; an imaginative essay tracing the evolution of text-based art up to 21st-century creative practices; and a presentation of the diverse contemporary artwork featured in the exhibition. The funding grant required that the publication document the exhibition itself. Accordingly, photography of the installations had to be art directed and integrated into the book design before going to press.