Albert Hollenstein, the typographer who introduced Helvetica to the French

Published on Monday 28 May 2007 by peter gabor
It was well before the creation of Helvetica by Max Miedinger in 1957 that Albert Hollenstein, a Swiss typographer, left the French-speaking mountains to reach Paris with just a backpack and his Rolleiflex (1953). As a child of Norman McLaren and Guy Peelaert he was going to revolutionize the French graphic landscape. I published an article in Steps # 131 that traces his most complete bio, so I would just bring some add-ins on this graphic boyscout. You will also find the gallery of works of his company here.

Albert Hollenstein never drew and personally produced a character from the beginning to the end. It was not a monk like Albert Boton who worked for him just before spinning at Delpire then Carré Noir later. The character Brasilia, he probably laid the foundations on a sheet of paper but just like Stanley Morison he entrusted his ideas to others, more patient to realize them. When he founded the Hollenstein workshop in the mid-1950s, he moved first to rue Germain Pilon and then to 16 rue Veron on the hills of Montmartre. It is there that the character of Miedinger marketed by the foundry Haas and its new leader, Alfred Hofmann, that Albert is for the first time in France propose to the advertising agencies and artistic directors to compose their texts in Helvetica and in manual lead, please ;-). Hollenstein’s career was unfortunately shortened by an unfortunate accident on the Italian coasts but testifies to a universal spirit, which embraced music, images and typo with the sense of mixing cultures.

He created the courses 19 which had a resounding success in the Paris micro-cosmos. The first time that we dared to approach architecture in France from an architectural and structural point of view. Imagine Walter Diethelm or Armin Hofmann or Josef Müller-Brockmann who had taught courses in the capital of the new arts and of a reluctance to everything that came from the Germanic Bauhaus. But the French loved Switzerland, and Albert had the gift of sharing his passions, especially as he left Jacques Roch and Hans Rudolf Lutz without him the adventure of class 19, , inventing the phototypo and the giant slideshows that projected you to the walls with 48 carousels at a time.

The talent of Albert Hollenstein: a talented discoverer who was able to surround himself with the best graphic artists of the moment, André Chante (alias Andy Song), Daniel Sinay, Albert Boton, Jean Alessandrini are just some of the brilliant representatives. And this talented discoverer was doubled with a gift for work. He worked tirelessly to the extreme. He himself went in contact with customers and was able to create a Hol spirit that invades the whole Paris of the Advertising Agencies. Major brands entrusted him with their budgets. such as Simca or IBM, for which each time he invented a creation process adapted to the messages to be delivered. Far from being a follower, he created fashion, as much for the characters, the logos, as for the visuals of magazines or the edition. For short, I invite you to taste with delight the few key images of the gallery I realized in his tribute.