The Daily Heller: A Graphic Design Magazine With Influence

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Campo Grafico: Rivista di Estetica e di Tecnica Grafica (Magazine of Aesthetics and Graphical Technique) was an Italian independent printing, typography and graphic design journal. Sixty-six issues were published in Milan from 1933–1939. Under the direction of Attilio Rossi until February 1935, more than 20 original founding members joined forces as a reaction to the growing tensions of nationalism and conservatism in the printing industries during the height of Fascism and Futurism in Italy.

The magazine advocated the New Typography (more or less as Jan Tschichold codified it) and progressive approaches to layout, touted as a cure for passé printing traditions. This was accomplished by rejecting the constrictions of classical symmetry. It furthermore created a platform for discussions about the ideals of the European avant-garde while experimenting with functionalism, grids, asymmetry, white space, photomontage and offset printing processes. The contents were designed and printed during off hours at various presses throughout Italy.

Campo Grafico was on a mission to reinvent graphic design. The text and images were overtly polemical, with attacks on all aspects of antiquated design and printing. Campo Grafico also took aim at the more established Il Risorgimento Grafico, published in Milan from 1902–1942.

The editors of Campo Grafico had little patience for the old and musty. With the publication of numerous practical examples done with reference to specific aesthetic concepts, Campo Grafico brought these ideas to printing offices and all levels of the graphic arts industry.

Campo Grafico’s covers best illustrate the editorial principles. Each is an experiment in presentation that uses technical capabilities to demonstrate new ideas or new theories. The magazine favored Marinetti’s Futurism, but was also primed to work with photomontage and collage, as well as mixing in every other ‘-ism’ of the 1930s avant-garde.

Last spring, on the eve of the 90th anniversary of Campo Grafico, the 66 covers were exhibited for the first time in the exhibition Campo Grafico 1933/1939: nasce il visual design at the ADI Design Museum, curated by Gaetano Grizzanti, Mauro Chiabrando, Pablo Rossi and Massimo Dradi. The catalog published by AIAP Edizioni is now available. Ninety years later, there is currency in the geometric and dynamic harmony of the solids (titles, texts, bodies, typographical accuracy, threads, dithering, images and colors) and of the voids (so-called white space) that arise, today as yesterday. Campo Grafico quickly became the wellspring and springboard for the aesthetics that gave rise to an Italian style in typography and graphic design.