9780811813112 / 0811813118

British Modern: Graphic Design between the Wars (Art Deco Design)


Publisher:Chronicle Books



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About the book:

If Britain surprises you as a source of graphic innovation, think of those posters from the 1920s and '30s promoting London's new subway system, The Underground--the bold red circle with the horizontal slash set in some futurist illustration of urbanity. It's true that England was slow to accept modernism as a vehicle for advertising British goods and industry. While France, Germany, and the U.S. were leaving decorative ornament behind in favor of more bold, industrial, and progressive techniques, English graphic artists held fast to their late-19th-century traditions. But not for long. By the 1920s, young English designers had not only accepted the methods of the Continent, but had made them their own. With the support of British trade and marketing organizations, English posters, packaging, typography, and book designs won international recognition.

The Underground posters are some of the most famous, but they are by no means the only remarkable images to come from this period. British Modern: Graphic Design Between the Wars collects what the authors call "the masterpieces of function and simplicity that characterize the best of the modern as well as the excessive concoctions that evolved or devolved." Constructivist-influenced covers of The Rag Rag magazine; flat, rich color fields of Austin Reed and Kestos clothing advertisements; and heavy-handed, austere wartime propaganda posters are just a few of the hundreds of illustrations that make this book a useful reference for anyone interested in design. The book's horizontal format allows for many images to fit on a page, but it works against the full-page illustrations, which tend to bleed off the page. The text is short, readable, and best of all, very informative, explaining the history, trends, and exhibitions that contributed to Britain's particular surge in creative activity. --Manine Golden

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