Letters from

Collected here is a selection of Dutch book covers; a sample grouping of a particular graphic format utilizing solely color and type.

The books issue from either of two publishers: Van Oorschot and Querido. The typography is comprised entirely of serifed typefaces, many being commonly employed letterforms such as GaramondBembo, Baskerville, etc., although most of the covers by Gerrit Noordzij are set in Noordzij’s own type designs, produced specifically for this purpose and none of which were released publicly. This selection includes three designers involved with the slightly varying graphic schemes: Gerrit NoordzijHarry N. Sierman and Barbara van Dongen Torman. (Individual images specify which designer was involved with a particular publication.)
The effect of these distinctively reductive, proto-postmodern arrangements typify an understated sophistication (perhaps unsurpassed). The simplicity here is not slavish to modernist reduction; but a particular plainness born of choice — chiefly from the novel utilization of a serif in a minimal context. It is important o note that the books were preceded by decades of deep ornamental defoliation; the unexpected introduction of a serifed typeface into such an intensely reduced environment makes the serif itself seem decorative. 
           As well (up until this point) a serifed typeface was generally accompanied by an ornamental border — here the vertical rectangle was lessened to a color field. Further tension comes with the often equalized weighting of title, author and publisher. And since there is only an enlarged text with no decorative condition to ground it, the whole affair ends up a 1:1 ratio of form and content. The color ends up as something like a diverse and wholly sensual exploration.

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(This site uses Guyot by ReType)



  • Gerrit Achterberg
  • Vasili Aksjonov
  • A. Alberts
  • Robert Anker
  • Grigori Baklanov
  • J. Bernlef
  • F. van den Bosch
  • Chistine D’haen
  • Willem Elsschot
  • Jan Emmens
  • Desiderius Erasmus
  • Redbad Fokkema
  • Jaap Goedegebuure
  • Lloyd Haft
  • Jan Hanlo
  • JAC. van Hattum
  • J.L. Heldring
  • Abel J. Herzberg
  • Judith Herzberg
  • A. Roland Holst
  • Piet-Hein Houben
  • Constantijn Huygens
  • J. de Kadt
  • Ivan Katajev
  • Rutger Kopland
  • Wiel Kusters
  • Osip Mandelsjtam
  • Guus Middag
  • Jan van Nijlen
  • Leonard Nolens
  • Willem Jan Otten
  • G.J. Resink
  • Gerard Reve
  • Karel van het Reve
  • L.F. Rosen
  • M. Vasalis
  • Marjoleine de Vos
  • Leo Vroman
  • Gerard Walschap
  • A.F. Ruitenberg-de Wit
  • Karel van de Woestijne