"Spend Your Alphabets Lavishly,"—a quote from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables—aptly describes the lifework of two principal figures in contemporary graphic arts: Hermann and Gudrun Zapf. The Zapfs' 50-year relationship with Rochester Institute of Technology is feted in this exhibition and catalogue, sponsored by RIT’s Melbert B. Cary, Jr. Graphic Arts Collection. The show presents rare holdings of Zapf materials held at the Cary Collection—the foremost Zapf archive outside of Germany. Distinguished typographer Jerry Kelly, curated the exhibition and designed the catalogue of type specimens, calligraphic exemplars, sketches, bindings, and book layouts. Cary Collection curator David Pankow, contributed an introduction describing the Zapfs' association with RIT since 1957, when Hermann Zapf was first invited as professor in its college of printing. The exhibition is on view at the Cary Collection through summer 2007, and the catalogue is available for sale through RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press.
Blessed with strong holdings in German type and book design, the Cary Collection has grown tremendously over the years due in part to the Zapfs' continued support. The archive’s most recent addition of Zapfania is the Cary Graphic Arts Press offices' glass wall—etched with a series of texts about books and typography, for which Hermann Zapf acted as designer. Drawings for this piece are among some 40 works featured in the exhibition, which includes sketches for the famous Optima typeface, mock-ups for the Manuale Typographicum, and calligraphic compositions by both artists.
The Spend Your Alphabets Lavishly catalogue is elegantly set in Gudrun Zapf's Nofret typeface, with cyan Zapfino headings and ornamental letters scattered throughout the book. Printed in an edition of 800 copies on Mohawk paper, it also includes reproductions of 21 pieces from the show. The cover jacket is printed on a tactile, slate-blue laid paper, with gold foil stamping which highlights Hermann Zapf's characteristic alphabet roundel in Zapfino.