Karl-Heinz Lange, 1929–2010

Posted on 5 July 2010 in:

Typeface design in Germany during the twentieth century was a field populated by giants. Arguably, in no century before, and in no country elsewhere, were so many designers creating so many quality typefaces for the printing, communication, journalism, and advertising industries. The facts of Germany’s turbulent twentieth century history played large roles in many German designer’s lives and careers. Today, via Ivo Gabrowitsch’s Twitter stream, I learned that Karl-Heinz Lange (1929–2010) passed away a week ago. Although most of Karl-Heinz Lange’s career was spent designing and teaching in the former East Germany, he remained active well-into his “retirement.” Over the past several years, he worked with Ole Schäfer at primetype to re-release three of the typefaces he developed for VEB Typoart as OpenType fonts. As late as 2007, he was still teaching, most recently at the Fachhochschule Magdeburg-Stendal. Last year, coinciding with his 80th birthday, he presented at the August Typostammtisch in Berlin. He had announced that this would be his final lecture, so that he could have more time in his old age to spend on other things. The crowd that came to hear him filled the room to capacity; for many in the audience, it was standing-room-only. At the time, I sincerely hoped that he wouldn’t keep this promise; I hoped that that he would return to more design conferences and future Typostammtisches and hold additional lectures, and perhaps bring more typefaces with him, too. I will miss him.

There is a fair amount of information online about Karl-Heinz Lange and his work. The best article that I know of is in English, at PingMag, in an article about the VEB Typoart. Ivo Gabrowitsch has written a moving tribute as well, which may be read in German or in English. There is a brief biography at primetype.com, with links to the new OpenType versions of his typefaces. The Typografie.info Typowiki also has a brief biography (in German). Ivo Gabrowitsch wrote a nice summary of the Lange lecture at the Berlin Typostammtisch on Fontwerk (in German), which also contains links to more images on Flickr. A few years ago, I purchased a copy of Lange’s 1965 Schrift: schreiben, zeichnen, konstruieren, schneiden, malen. Photos of this booklet may be found in an earlier TypeOff. post.