Giambattista Bodoni, along with his rival the French typographer Didot, defined the transition of the serif from the transitional serif to the modern. In fact, the name for this classification of serif, Didone, is derived from both Bodoni and Didot’s names. Bodoni’s most famous creation was, of course, his namesake typeface.
Bodoni’s typeface was very different than the transitionals that had dominated in the decades before. Transitionals had maintained some of the balanced modulation between main strokes and hairlines exemplified by old style serifs. With Bodoni all bets were off– its serifs had no brackets and were distinguished by a completely flat stroke, marking a sharp difference between thick and thin strokes.
A series of revivals of Bodoni began in the 20th century, launched by the success of the American Type Foundry’s ATF Bodoni. Many of the competing revivals were based on ATF’s model; however, the Bauer foundry took an alternate approach. ATF Bodoni and many of its derivatives had modified the original Bodoni to increase legibility, toning down its high contrast. Jost, on the other hand, decided to pursue a Bodoni revival that was more loyal to the original.
The resulting Bauer Bodoni is a graceful, albeit bright, typeface. It is characterized by sharp, thin serifs and is mostly used for display purposes given its high contrast and pronounced vertical stress.
Bauer Bodoni is excellent for display and headline use. It has been described as a “high-strung thoroughbred” as opposed to a workhorse. It works best when used particularly, in narrow applications that accentuate its stylized aspects. It is currently used in the logotype of the University of Carnegie Mellon. The pop star Lady Gaga also employs it in her logo.