THE ORIGINS OF BOOK DESIGN
Jaroslav Andel [Supervisor]: THE ORIGINS OF BOOK DESIGN: JOSEF CAPEK AND CZECH AVANT-GARDE. Tokyo: Printing Museum, 2003. First edition. Text in Japanese with English translations of title page and descriptions of illustrations. Octavo. Thick printed wrappers. 128 pp. 147 [primarily] color illustrations. Table of contents and descriptions of illustrations. Laid in errata slip. Catalog for Exhibition at the Printing Museum, Tokyo, July-September 2003. Rare. A fine copy.
JOSEF CAPEK AND CZECH AVANT-GARDE
Jaroslav Andel [Supervisor]
6.75 x 8.5 softcover book with 128 pages and 147 [primarily] color examples showing the evolution of Czech Book Design from 1900 to 1930. Exceptional book published for a Japanese exhibition on Czech Modernist graphic art, focusing on artist Josef Capek and his designs for his brother Karel's books, as well as on the work of Czech contemporaries like Karel Teige, Zdenek Rossmann, Frantisek Muzika, Ladislav Sutnar, Vaclav Masek, Vti Obrtel, and various other members of the avant-garde Devetsil group. Profusely illustrated with color plates, including book covers and illustrations, prints and woodcuts, Modernist photos by Josef Capek, graphic design for Czech architecture, art and design theory periodicals from the 20's and 30's, and more. A major publication on Czech Modernism, beautifully produced and designed, and a significant resource on the period.
From "Looking at the Future by Looking at the Past: Study of the Czech Avant-Garde and the Works of Josef Capek" by Dana Bartelt: "The Czech Avant-garde movement of the 1920's and 1930's had a profound influence on design around the world; it included Cubist, Functionalist (Bauhaus) and Russian Constructivist styles.
"But one of the unique contributors to book design during this period was Josef Capek, Czech artist, who designed over 500 books during the 1920's through 30's in Czechoslovakia. His distinctive designs are sought after by collectors around the world, and speak a timeless visual language because it cannot be categorized by any artistic trend.
"The unique book design of Capek, who was predominantly a cubist artist, relies on the content of the book for inspiration.
In an article by Capek, he explains how to make book jackets: ". . . in my country . . . the book market is always full of books -- some that are not so successful and some by famous people, so new publishers must work extremely hard to attract attention. This realization turned me from my love of standardization to a conviction that each and every book should be given a unique style, a special, individual appeal. If you look at the windows of bookshops in my country, you'll see books shouting, jumping over each other, assailing each other. In the fight for attention, every new book struggles to kick aside the books that came out the week before. In other words, this is a game in which you have to attack with powerful visual justification."
Capek was a writer and painter, as well as designing book covers. His designs reflect his literary or 'poetic' approach to his designs. Because most of these books had relatively large runs and needed to be produced inexpensively, he chose to create the designs using the technique of linoleum cuts."
Josef Capek (1887 - 1945) was a Czech painter, graphic artist, stage designer, and writer, born at Hronov in Bohemia, the son of a doctor. His career was many-sided, but he regarded himself primarily as a painter. Like Filla and Gutfreund, he was one of the earliest artists outside France to work in a Cubist idiom, and with them he was one of the founders of the Group of Plastic Artists, established in Prague in 1911 with the object of combining Cubism and German Expressionism into a new national style. Later the Expressionist current in his work prevailed, revealing his deep concern with fundamental moral and social questions (Bad Conscience, Moravian Gallery, Brno, 1926). His humanist outlook was shared by his more famous younger brother, the writer Karel Capek, several of whose books he illustrated. Both of them fervently opposed the threat from Nazi Germany in the 1930s; Karel died the year before the outbreak of the Second World War, but Josef lived to see its full horrors and died in Belsen concentration camp. His work as a writer included poetry, a novel, and plays written in collaboration with Karel, most notably The Insect Play (1920), a comic fantasy satirizing greed and selfishness. [IAN CHILVERS. "Capek, Josef." A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art. 1999 ]
Spreads from this volume can be viewed here.
out of stock