Although the monograph El sol para todos, which the designer Alberto Corazón prepared for the disappeared Banco Urquijo, was published in 1979, its elaboration process lasted for over five years. As the subtitle of the book points out, it was an “analysis of the commercial iconography of Madrid”.
Similar initiatives are currently being carried out in Granada – see Granatatype. Tipografía y entorno urbano en Granada (Granatatype. Typography and urban environment in Granada), by Nano Torres-, Barcelona Gráfica by the designer América Sánchez or, in Portugal, Cidade Gráfica. Letreiros e reclaas Lisboa no século XX, catalog of an exceptional exhibition that took place in the MUDE lisboeta in 2015. These investigations give a picture of the interest in traditional commercial signage and the concern for the gradual disappearance of these references that make up the urban landscape in relation to what came to be called the “historical memory” of cities.
As Alberto Corazón himself wrote in the prologue, “this is a book about the relationship between our cities and us, their inhabitants and creators (…), The images that follow seem to refer to a” tradition “, but for our parents and grandparents they were a creative challenge. It is not about recovering anything, but about fixing our own identity signals that, necessarily, I think come from their own ».
The introductory text is structured on the following items: the medium, the street, the repertoire, the space, the photographs and the aesthetic message. In this journey, Alberto Corazón reflects on how illiteracy obliged businesses to sign using non-verbal resources, which gave rise to some chromatic keys defined in the field of food: white / blue was used in dairies and egg shops: yellows / ocher and green in the greengrocers, and red / brown in the butchers and food houses.
The photographic report by José Miguel Gómez, a collaborator in the study of Alberto Corazón at that time, was carried out over five years of work. As the designer himself revealed in the text: “I needed an amateur to photograph the numbers, the hens, the dancing grapes, the absurd shoes and the corny tiles”.
The course of the book ranges from numbers and letters, to techniques, languages, narrative sequence or what Corazón qualifies as “the new forces”, highlighting some examples such as the one on page 95 to which the author refers as “graphic perfection”, adding: “an extraordinary realization. A perfect example of expressive and technical economy. An impeccable graphic approach and a sensual solution ». The book closes with two chapters dedicated to «a masterpiece» about «La Zamorana», a house of meals located in Galileo Street, 21 of Madrid and a semblance about Alfonso Romero, «a mentor» for Alberto Corazón.
In my works of recovery of the material of the pioneers I have always had the concern of differentiating what is interesting and correct in its graphic approaches from what simply calls attention to its evocative, nostalgic character, or that we find it endearing for reasons other than those of its formal quality. In this post I propose that you distinguish between these aspects and I invite you to read the texts that accompany the images (which we have increased in size, this time altering the original model, to help your reading).