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L’Officina Bodoni

6 May 2023 ore 17:00 - 16 Sep 2023 ore 18:00

L’Officina Bodoni.

Mardersteig and the Art of the Book


The Officina Bodoni.
Mardersteig and the Art of the Book

May, 6 – September, 16 2023

Tipoteca Gallery

In partnership with
Martino Mardersteig

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Officina Bodoni. Mardersteig and the Art of the Book is the exhibition that Tipoteca Italiana dedicates to the enchantment of the editions printed on the iron press by Giovanni Mardersteig (1892-1977) and later by his son Martino (1941).

Established in 1922 in Montagnola di Lugano, Switzerland, that year Officina Bodoni published Goethe’s Urworte and, the following year, Angelo Poliziano’s Orphei, hand-set and printed on the Dingler press with Bodoni typefaces cast from the original matrices preserved in Parma. In 1927, the printshop was transferred to Verona, as Mardersteig was entrusted with the supervision of the Italian edition of Gabriele d’Annunzio’s Opera Omnia at Mondadori.

On the first page of the book L’Officina Bodoni, published in Verona in 1929, we read: ‘The book in its noblest kind should always be a work of art. And the instrument with which this end can be achieved most fully is the press’.

In a few essential words, the ideas and ambitions of Mardersteig’s editorial plans in the years to come are concentrated. And it is no coincidence that the name of the printshop seals the fusion of ‘Officina’ and the name ‘Bodoni’: the former term derives from the archaic Latin opificina, a place designated to ‘create works’ through the work of the opifex (‘worker, craftsman’, a name composed of opus ‘work’ and facere ‘to make’). The devotion to Bodoni is testified by the sincere and direct homage to one of the most celebrated typographers, a sign of the boundless admiration for the sublime quality of Bodoni’s editions: for Mardersteig, the Officina “set itself the first task of studying and lovingly using the typefaces of Giambattista Bodoni, sovereign printer among those of his time.”

The exhibition offers the public the opportunity to admire a selection of masterpieces by Officina Bodoni, released between 1922 and 2006, and kindly loaned for the exhibition by his son Martino.
Visitors will be able to appreciate about forty fine editions as well as the typefaces, starting with the first titles printed in Montagnola and then moving on to those of the Officina’s long Verona season: an excursus among literary masterpieces by classical authors, such as Sophocles, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe and Wilde, in some cases magnificently illustrated by “contemporary” artists such as Filippo De Pisis, Massimo Campigli, Arturo Martini and Salvador Dalì.

The beauty of books originates from the substantial intonation between all the parts that compose them: this is the Officina’s golden rule. “Five are the elements of the book, namely text, typeface, ink, paper and binding. To compose from these five elements a coherent and plausible whole, not subject to fashion, whose value is stable and free from the passage of time; to compose works freed, as far as can be given to things made by men, from the influences of caprice and chance, and worthy of the high heritage of which we are the depositaries and responsible: this is our ambition.

That ambition has been fully achieved and we can now call ourselves the fortunate spectators of typographic gems of rare perfection and elegance.


Giovanni (Hans) Mardersteig (Weimar, 1892–Verona, 1977), after graduating in law, he began publishing at a very young age in K. Wolff’s publishing house in Leipzig and in 1917 founded the magazine “Genius”. Zeitschrift für alte und werdende Kunst, an instrument for reflection and research on expressionism. For health reasons, he was forced to move to Montagnola di Lugano (Switzerland), where he established the Officina Bodoni, a private press that over time became internationally renowned for the quality of its press-printed editions. In 1926 he came to Verona, called by Arnoldo Mondadori to print the opera omnia of Gabriele D’Annunzio. In 1946, he became an Italian citizen and changed his name to Giovanni. He also designed excellent typefaces for editions with the collaboration of the French punchmaker Charles Malin, the most famous of which are Fontana, Zeno and Dante. He died in Verona in 1977.

Martino Mardersteig (1941), son of Giovanni, studied at the Academy of Graphic Arts in Munich. He also took up the profession of typographer and printer, both by collaborating with the Officina Bodoni and by taking over the reins of the Stamperia Valdonega, founded in Verona by Giovanni in 1948, which has always been dedicated to printing books of extraordinary quality. Martino conceived and developed the VAL project at the printing works with the precise intent of making available, first for photocomposition and then for digital reality, the typographic quality of classic publishing fonts, starting with the Dante, designed by his father



6 May 2023 ore 17:00
16 Sep 2023 ore 18:00
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