Obituary for Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse

Bookbinding master, typeface artist and honorary member of the Gutenberg Society

The Presidium and Board of the International Gutenberg Society mourn the death of its honorary member, the master bookbinder and typeface artist Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse, who died on 13.12.2019.

Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse, born on January 2, 1918 in Schwerin, gained international fame as a typeface artist. In 1991 she was honored with the highest American award in the field of type and book art, the Frederic W. Goudy Award, and in 2016 (together with Hermann Zapf posthumously) she received the first German award, the Art Prize of the Ike and Berthold Roland Foundation. Her path to this international prestige led her from an apprenticeship with the renowned Weimar binding artist Otto Dorfner (1937-1940) to a position as lecturer for type and typeface design at Frankfurt's Städel-Hochschule (1946-1954). In addition, she taught herself to write typefaces  autodidactically, ran her own bookbinding workshop in Frankfurt and designed numerous typefaces, most recently her first digital typeface, Hesse Antiqua.

On November 8, 2018, the International Gutenberg Society awarded Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse honorary membership. The ceremony took place in the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz and was accompanied by the premiere of the film "Alphabet Magic", which traces the life, work and successes of the couple Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse and Hermann Zapf and tells of their love of books and fonts.

Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse was one of the most important personalities in the art of books and printing and we will keep her in special memory as an honorary member of our society. Our sympathy goes to her family and all her relatives.

Presidium and Board of the International Gutenberg Society


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