Book Jacket Modernism

Book jackets are a wellspring of graphic styles and often mirror what is going on in the design culture. I’ve long admired this pastiche of Russian constructivism for the book The Diary of a Communist Undergraduate from 1929. The author Nikolai Ognev (1888-1938) was active as a writer “before the October Revolution,” which, we’re told, he embraced enthusiastically.

Ognev wrote a lot about the radical changes in education in the Soviet Union in the twenties, especially the introduction and implementation of educational reforms. This jacket design is, therefore, a celebration rather than a attack on the author’s point of view. All that’s known of the designer are the initials SE. Good job, SE.

I wish I knew who designed The American MaleĀ (bottom) from 1948. The jacket has the look of Lester Beall without the compositional drama of his classic collage work. Which just goes to show, its good to sign work, so that 60 years later someone like me can look you up.

 

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