H.Th. Wijdeveld


The Netherlands, 's-Gravenhage, 1885 - 1987

"Yes, I'm a decorative artist as well these days. And circumstances give me so much time for my active interest in decorative art that many ask with a downcast look: "but you're an architect, aren't you?" 'Wendingen' takes a particularly heavy toll on my architectural work."
- H. TH. Wijdeveld

excerpt from 'De problemen der Hedendaagsche Architectuur', lecture held on october 8, 1930 in Antwerp. (NAI, wijdeveldarchief B.32.7)

H. Th. Wijdeveld in 1975.
still from the documentary 'Plan the Impossible'.

Hendrikus Theodorus Wijdeveld is best known for his architectural approach to typography in the dutch art magazine 'Wendingen'.

At the age of 14 Wijdeveld was first trained at the office of architect P.J.H Cuypers. He developed a personal style in his architectural designs and started his own independent office in Amsterdam in 1913. His interests grew beyond the area in which he was educated. He was interested in literature, music and drama, he conceived stage sets, drew costumes and designed posters. He was an allround artist, but architecture remained the base for his ideas.

Drawing by Wijdeveld.

Wijdeveld was, among many young architects, a member of the 'Architecture et Amicitia' society. Established by members of the Amsterdam School in 1855 this society managed to play an important role in the dutch art- and architecture scene. They organised lectures, exhibitions and published several magazines. Members shared a love for decorative elements.

Between 1916 and 1918 several members felt the need to have a specific magazine in which they could discuss contemporary dutch realisations in architecture and other art-forms. Wijdeveld was one of the many enthousiasts and would eventually become the devoted founder of this magazine, titled 'Wendingen', which means 'Turnings' or 'Changes' thus depicting the intellectual and artistic changes after WWI.

Magazine Cover by Josef Cantré on the subject of 'Hungary'.
1929, year 3, no.5

Magazine Cover by Anton Kurvers on the subject of 'Flemish Folkdrama'
1927, year 8, no.3

Between 1918 and 1931, 116 issues were published. Every edition of Wendingen was devoted to a specific topic troughout the arts, covering architecture, interiordesign, sculpture, ceramics, graphic arts, theatre, dance and even natural phenomena such as shells and crystals.

Magazine Cover by El Lissitzky on the subject of 'Frank Lloyd Wright'.
1921, year 4, no.11

Magazine Cover by Frank Lloyd Wright on his own work.
1925, no.4

For each edition another artist was commissioned to create a cover (and backcover) design. Wijdeveld gave them maximum freedom; the design didn't have to be consistent and shouldn't even be linked to the contents of the magazine. Several well-known artists were happy to contribute, among them Jan Toorop, Jac. Jongert, Vilmos Huszar and El lissitzky (who designed the Frank Lloyd Wright issue).

Magazine Cover by W.M.Dudok on his own work.
1941, no.8

Many cover designs were shaped using the Wendingen-style which Wijdeveld had created: a construction of type and ornaments the way an architect would use bricks to form letters in a facade. Letters were drawn with a ruler or composed with compositor's brass rules in a bright and expressive way. These strict letterforms were then placed in a dynamic and exuberant composition. But several others were more freely constructed, with hand drawn-lettering and illustrations.

"Just as the architect finds the right place for the closed wall surface, the windows and doors, and every architectural part has its own function, so the typographer, if he wishes to do his work well, must fittingly position and group his letters, words and lines"
- L. Ronner

excerpt from L. Ronner; 'het typografisch aanplakbiljet'. Wendingen 16, series 2, nr 5, 1919.

Most of the caracteristics in the design of Wendingen were greatly inspired by an earlier magazine by Mathieu Lauweriks named 'Ring'. Lauweriks had developed a system-based design method.
In 'Ring' sansserif type was used, which at that time was regarded as a vulgar advertising type. This sansserif was combined with ornaments made with typesetters' rule.

Magazine Cover by Margaret Kropholler on 'the architecture of J.F.Staal'.
1929, year 10, no.5

Magazine Cover by Jac Jongert on the subject of 'Berlage'.
1920, no.11

Wendingen was extravagant, not only in its size (33x33cm), but also in its exclusive materials. The double square shape of the pages, the stitching and the use of rice paper were oriental influences, which enjoyed great popularity during the early 20th century.

interior pages of the magazine.
Date unknown.

Wijdeveld designed several covers during the first year. Later on he turned his attention to the interior pages of the magazine and left the cover design to others. The interior was flexible but hardly changed through the thirteen years the magazine was published. The running text is set in a sansserif, a wide nineteenth-century grotesk. Titles were very decorative and set in the typical Wijdeveld-style.

In the magazine design, as well as in their architectural work, members of the Amsterdam School often contradicted themselves. On one side they strive for renewal and brightness, and on the other side they tend to over-decorate. While readability should be an important issue when striving for brightness, in Wendingen it was subordinate. Titles are often difficult to read - also caused by the vertical arrangement (influenced by chinese characters).

This contradiction was criticized by functionalists whose ideas were envisioned in the progressive dutch art-magazine De Stijl. They saw the Wendingen design as "artistic, decorative, symbolic, fantastic, antisocial, lyrical, passive, romantic, aesthetic, craftsmanly". Their own approach was labeled with the words "real, photographic, direct, pragmatic, competitive, reasoning, active, up-to-date, functional, practical, technical."*

excerpt from Paul Schuitema, "letters: het materiaal van den drukker", i10 nr 19, 1929, p 124.

Nevertheless Wendingen formed a bridge between 19th century eclecticism and the international functionalist ideas during the inter-war-years.

Final year certificate
Maatschappij van Nijverheid. School voor Bouwkunde, Versierende Kunsten en Kunstambachten, Haarlem.
Date unknown.

type design
Date unknown.

In 1925 Wijdeveld resigned as editor of Wendingen. Wendingen was not Wijdeveld's only interference in graphic design. During the 1920's he designed several posters, book plates, vignettes, stationary, books, covers and even alphabets. For several of these projects he kept true to the Wendingen style.

Der geesten gemoeting
by J.W. Schotman
interior pages

'Der geesten gemoeting' by J.W. Schotman, an oriental-inspired book about Chinese signs, is regarded as his masterpiece in book-design. For this book he drew more than two hundred different angular ornaments.

"For more than a year now I have been spending my Sunday mornings working on the typography for 'Der geesten gemoeting' (...) An exquisite task for which I drew two hundred different decorations, the letters. An airy relaxation, often while my wife and our friends played music. But such work goes unappreciated. It would be too expensive - it's always too expensive in this country."

Wijdeveld, excerpt from 'De problemen der Hedendaagsche Architectuur', lecture held on october 8, 1930 in Antwerp. (NAI, wijdeveldarchief B.32.7)

Der geesten gemoeting
by J.W. Schotman
study of several chinese characters.

From 1930 onwards he left his angular constructions behind and focussed on standard type.

Wijdeveld has become the longest-living dutch artist ever, reaching the age of 102.


Hans Oldewarris, Art Deco Design on Paper, 010 Publishers (2003). find this book on amazon.com

M. Simon Thomas, Goed in vorm, 010 publishers (2008).
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Jan Middendorp, Dutch Type, 010 publishers (2004).
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Zuidelijkewandelweg on Wendingen
small thumbnails of Wendingen-covers
Posters by Wijdeveld on Art.com


Wendingen, Januari 1919, No. 1
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