French Current of the Letter

French Current of the Letter is a short essay about graphic design practices carried on by members of Lettrism, an avant-garde movement estabilished in Paris in 1946 by the Romanian immigrant Isidore Isou. The essay outlines Lettrism’s relevance for the history of graphic design, underestimated so far by graphic design historians and critics.

During the postwar era, Lettrists stressed the idea of the letter as the zero-grade of each intellectual activity and advocated a total annihilation of current language in order to rebuild the whole social and cultural environment. These theories led to a rather prolific production within the field of graphic design, through experiments on formats such as books, reviews, short films and other visual media. Beyond their technical and productive interest, Lettrist productions seem to anticipate aesthetical, practical and theorical issues typical of later and already historicized graphic design currents such as Deconstructivism and New Wave.

The volume includes an anthology of pictures taken at the Centro Studi Lettristi of Genoa [IT], where a large amount of the movement’s original productions are preserved.

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