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The Modernist #16
Magazine of the week

The Modernist #16

I’ve always had time for The Modernist; I enjoyed its positive outlook on modernism, and in particular brutalist, architecture. But I never quite warmed to the design, which is perhaps why, despite regular mentions here over the years, we’ve never taken a longer look at an issue.

Until now, that is. I may have missed a few recent issues, but the arrival of the latest one was a pleasant surprise and makes a very welcome Magazine of the Week.

The first impression is strong and simple, making the most of the basics: a striped black and white matt cover is in complete contrast to a glossy warm red wraparound.

IMG_3154Peel back the red title piece and this circular pattern (above) echoes the magazines logo. Such visual/tactile effects can sometimes be overworked, but this a powerfully elemental use of basic colour and pattern that is not only relevant and appealing, but also a contemporary take on modernism. Less pastiche, more appropriation.

IMG_3156The entire issue works with just these two colours, the first story (above) setting the visual template: the two typefaces offer a mix of contemporary and mid-century modernism. The first, black phrase uses the relatively recent and hugely popular Circular (we use it here on our site) and the second part of each headline uses a different font. These range from the above grotesk to the decidedly sixties Antique Olive (below) via a spindly serif worthy of the Letraset catalogue.

IMG_3157Although mainly concerned with architecture, The Modernist is good at providing a broader cultural context. This Bowie piece is a great example, examining his position in 20th century culture; you turn the page to story about Berthold Lubetkin’s London work.

IMG_3160The theme of the issue is ‘Experiment’, and as you’ll have spotted, each page is stamped with that word and a reference to Picasso (detail, above) in pale tint. This is a rare departure from an otherwise clean and clear modernist layout (below, a piece about skyscrapers), and refers to a key essay by Peter Wyeth about experimentation and Picasso’s disdain for the term.

The Modernist is a beautiful, small magazine – it just about fills its perfect binding to create a spine – that does a lot with few elements and little fuss. It’s managed to keep going long enough to really develop into something special, and it’s a credit to those listed as sponsors – Imoso, Steven Passant – and patrons Johnny Marr and Jonathan Meades as well as the magazine team themselves.

Editors: Jack Hale, Eddy Rhead and Emily Gee
Design: Thomas Ulrik Madsen

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