• Steven Heller

Georgia On My Mind

New Georgian Book Design 1920s–30s by Pavel Chepyzhov (published by Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN in Warsaw) provides a rare view into the world of Georgian modern and “new typography.” The 100 books in this catalog from 2018 were published in Tbilisi (then known as Tiflis), the capital of Georgia, where many artists and writers settled during the civil war in Russia. “When the concentration of talent in Tiflis reached critical mass,” writes Chepyhov, “the milestones of avant garde literature were created.” Designers unknown to the West established the Georgian book culture, where the Constructivist style was practiced. Like other progressive capitals of art, various movements emerged around individuals, cafes and periodicals. And like many of these movements, disagreements between individuals and government altered the course.

The Georgian scripts are the three writing systems of the language: Asomtavruli, Nuskhuri and Mkhedruli. Although the systems differ in appearance, all three are unicase, and their letters share the same names and alphabetical order, and are written horizontally from left to right. Of the three scripts, Mkhedruli, once the civilian royal script of the Kingdom of Georgia and mostly used for the royal charters, is now the standard script for modern Georgian and its related Kartvelian languages, whereas Asomtavruli and Nuskhuri are used only by the Georgian Orthodox Church, in ceremonial religious texts and iconography.

Here are a few of the designs that were inspired and, in turn, inspired the graphic and typographic output of the times.

Design and illustrations by Kirill Zdanevich, 1923.

Cover illustration by David Kutateladze, 1924.

Cover and illustrations by Irakli Gamrekeli, 1924.

Cover designer unknown, 1925.

Cover based on painting by Franz Marc, 1926.

Cover illustration by Irakli Gamrekeli, 1927.

Cover design by Irakli Gamrekeli, 1930.

Cover montage by Irakli Gamrekeli, 1931.

Designer unknown, 1924.

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