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Graphic Design: A New History Hardcover – October 25, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Eskilson’s user-friendly text has excellent coursebook potential for college-level classes in the history of graphic design. The book highlights and defines key terms, visually spotlights central information within chapters, and displays high-quality, detailed images throughout. Graphic Design: A New History will draw students in with exciting imagery and expand their knowledge with an engrossing narrative that presents an evolution of events unfolding as with any captivating plot."—Rebecca Klein Ganz, Savannah College of Art and Design
(Rebecca Klein Ganz)

Graphic Design: A New History might well become a new standard in the field of critical graphic design history. A great strength of the book is the author’s attention to the relation of graphic design to larger social issues, especially the formation of national identity. Another is his facility in visual analysis and ability to elucidate the meanings embedded in the formal aspects of design and typography. The book effectively integrates graphic design history into contemporaneous aesthetic debates, and relates the work to fine arts, decorative arts, and architecture. The illustrations are remarkably good, extensive, and well printed. The text has at least a brief discussion of every piece illustrated, which makes it an excellent resource and provides students with a model of how to deal with design analytically. I would recommend this book for college-level history of graphic design courses, and as a general background text for a graduate-level introduction to the field.”—Ethan Robey, Parsons The New School for Design/Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
(Ethan Robey)

“Stephen Eskilson’s new book, Graphic Design: A New History, is a comprehensive, thorough, well-illustrated and up-to-date survey of graphic design history. Amassing almost 500 pages, along with hundreds of color images, Eskilson’s new book should most certainly share shelf space with Philip Meggs’ History of Graphic Design, which until now has really been the only complete history of this relatively young but ever more prevalent design field. Eskilson’s book presents visual examples and contextual descriptions of how print, advertising, and design evolved and responded to currents in mainstream social, cultural, and political affairs. Students should find the book accessible, readable, and full of necessary introductory information. This volume offers enormous amounts of useful facts and background, and without a doubt it would be an appropriate book for any student of graphic design.”—Lucinda Hitchcock, Rhode Island School of Design
(Lucinda Hitchcock)

"An excellent survey of graphic design from the late 19th- to the early 21st century, this book is well written, highly accessible, and demonstrates sound scholarly research. Although the main focus is on the 20th century (unlike Philip B. Meggs's History of Graphic Design), this work compliments the prior with a much expanded contextual and historical framework. The author establishes connections to social, political, cultural, and technical developments that influenced the aesthetic outcome of graphic design work over time. The book is superbly illustrated in full color, which makes for a much better appreciation, understanding, and absorption of the topics discussed, and includes many lesser known samples from within the design discourse. Lastly, the text truly leads up to the most recent 21st-century developments in design, issues with which design students and professionals are currently grappling. Graphic Design: A New History is excellent for use with coursework in graphic design as well as other cultural studies classes, both at colleges and art schools.”—Henk van Assen, Yale University School of Art
(Henk van Assen)

“Stephen Eskilson has written an expansive new book on the history of modern graphic design. Rather than reconstruct the typical 'pyramids to Picasso' chronology, he begins with a richly detailed and insightful summary of the later part of the 19th century and assembles a remarkably thorough review of art and communications from the avant-garde and the war years to the international style, post modern design, and digital media. Interspersed with examples of architecture, references to contemporary essays and journals, and both familiar and new illustrations, it is perhaps the most inclusive, thorough, and up-to-date assessment of design available. It will prove accessible to students, authoritative to professionals and educators, and will provide an excellent basis for a comprehensive understanding of essential developments in contemporary visual culture. This is one of the most comprehensive and detailed texts I have encountered and is essential reading for any student or designer studying the history of 20th century design.”—Doug Wadden, University of Washington
(Doug Wadden)

"What makes this history 'new' is the author's focus on the role that technology has played, for better or worse, in the evolution of design style."—Lisa Rossi, Wall Street Journal
(Lisa Rossi Wall Street Journal 2007-12-15)

"[Eskilson] has done excellent work. . . . Anyone with a serious design library should consider acquiring Eskilson's new history. It will serve as a reliable reference and a fruitful compendium of visual ideas."—Ellen Lupton, I.D. International Design Magazine
(Ellen Lupton I.D. International Design 2008-04-01)

". . . . To awaken greater appreciation for both the creativity and the impact of this often-discounted art form, art historian Eskilson has created a uniquely comprehensive, discerning, and vital history. . . . Eye-opening on many levels."—Booklist

Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2012 for Art and Architecture within the Humanities category.
(Outstanding Academic Title Choice 2013-05-22)

About the Author

<strong>Stephen Eskilson</strong> is associate professor, Art Department, Eastern Illinois University. He is coauthor of Frames of Reference: Art History and the World and publishes frequently on contemporary art and design.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300120117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300120110
  • Product Dimensions: 11.7 x 9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #300,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert S. Petersen on February 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Eskilson's New History is a long overdue addition to textbooks on Graphic Design that before now have had to largely suffice with the sporadically updated Meggs' History of Graphic Design. Eloquent and illuminating, Eskison spans the modern age and then goes deep into contemporary design with a fine attention to the artistic and technical developments in the field. Eskilson pays special attention to the challenges and creative solutions that graphic designers have devised with valuable insights into the society that these designs were made for. Eskilson is especially effective in drawing out connections between graphic design and larger world events, such as: the growth of British World War I propaganda posters and their subsequent impact on the raw emotional power of propaganda design, the London Underground on popularizing Modernism, and motion graphics and the blurred boundaries of new digital technologies. One of the great strengths of this text over Meggs' text is the way Eskilson ably links innovations in Modern Art and Architecture with developments in Graphic Design. Too often the history of Graphic Design has been treated as a study that only concerns fellow designers and the interactions between Graphic Design and the Fine Art world have been given short shrift.

While Eskilson is chiefly interested in communicating the broad outlines of Graphic Design History for an undergraduate audience, to call this book a textbook is to do a great disservice to the extraordinary design layout, which can certainly hold its own against any other fine art book stacked up on your coffee table. Yale UP and Eskilson are to be praised for the gorgeous selection of large color reproductions. Don't wait till your professor assigns this book, buy this one just for the pleasure of enjoying a great read and a beautiful design.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read this text (cover to cover) for a History of Graphic Design class I teach. In the past, I have used the classic Meggs History of Graphic Design. I decided to try another text this semester, and I will be going back to Meggs next Spring. I found the higher number of images in Eskilson's book initially appealing, and from a quick scan of the text, it seemed fine. However, digging deeper into the text, I found that the price paid for all the pretty pictures was a less comprehensive text with some weird omissions.

Aside from skipping a significant amount of important territory in early design history (Guttenberg is in the "preface"? Really?), there were other inclusions and omissions that gave this text the feel of an editorial on design history, not a textbook. I don't care - or want to know - the personal design tastes of Eskilson. I don't want to know his political bent. I want to know the facts. Let my students and I evaluate the merits of a given design movement or designer.

The biggest omission (in my opinion) in this book was the complete absence of any work from David Carson. While we can argue the merits of his work, he was clearly a significant, important designer in the 90's. Much more than Tomato(!?) or Art Chantry. The text pertaining to Carson smells of personal distaste, not objective analysis. This, again, has no place in a history text. A book that is a series of critical essays on the history of design? Absolutely! But not a book claiming to be history, not opinion.

Others have mentioned the inaccuracies in the text, so I will leave it at was already said.

OK, one (of many) minor peeve: when writing about the psychedelic posters of the 60's, Eskilson refers to "Richard Griffin".
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is essential for any serious graphic designer. It covers the beginning of graphic design from the Victorian era to the modern era and everything in between. There are so many good design examples and the book shows how design has evolved internationally.
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As cheap as this book is, the first thing that shocked me was the fact that it's in full color. It's rare these days to find books in full color, and have nice paper for pages.

The book is great, and I use it all the time to study for my class. It's got in depth information about artists, movements, and pieces of artwork. This book doesnt skimp on the details!

Buy this book!
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Format: Hardcover
This is the text book for my History of Graphic Design course...the pictures are great and the text is easy to follow, interesting to read. I've enjoyed it so far.
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Got this book for a Graphic Design history class, wasn't too excited about the thickness of the book, but it's not that bad. It has a bunch of pictures to show you what he's talking about. This book has taught me soo much, my work has greatly improved and I know where to cite references, so I sound smarter. Goes into a more than just the work, but what's going on in the world at the time and why it's affecting it. The book jumps around at times when certain movements overlap, but overall I think it's a great book, and well worth the money, and when your done with it it'll make a nice coffee table piece.
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Format: Hardcover
This book provides the history of graphic design and typography in a manner far more complex than a sweeping catalogue of images, styles, movements, and functions changing through time. It embeds these elements within the historical and technological patterns and events which both spawned changes in design, and were in turn deeply influenced by this art form. This accessible entwining of graphic design and typography with social history fosters a more lucid understanding of the role of these very human forms of communication over time, including the transforming innovations of the late 20th--early 21st centuries.
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