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Jackets Required Paperback – March 1, 1995
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From Library Journal
During the Twenties, Thirties, and Forties, as books entered into competition with magazines for consumer attention in the marketplace, book jackets emerged as one of America's most vital graphic media. Many of America's most talented illustratators, influenced by Art Deco, Bauhaus, and constructivism, worked in this field. Heller (Covers and Jackets, PBC Intl., 1993), a senior art director at the New York Times, and book illustrator Chwast have assembled 272 examples of classic jacket art from that period, representing the work of 92 artists. The examples are divided into fiction and nonfiction. The authors also include a special section on six of the period's key designers: E. McNight Kauffer, W.A. Dwiggins, Arthur Hawkins Jr., George Saler, Alvin Lustig, and Paul Rand. A work tracing the evolution of the miniposters that proclaim a book's interior has been much needed, and this one is sure to please bibliophiles and designers alike. Highly recommended for general collections in both public and academic libraries as well as all special design collections.?Joseph Hewgley, Nashville
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Book jackets are all about seduction. Heller, senior art director at the New York Times, and graphic designer Chwast describe them as books' clothing, flashy and fashionable. During the decades covered by this delightful volume, the 1920s through the 1950s, book jackets displayed cutting-edge graphic design and achieved the perfect union of art and commerce. In their brief but colorful introduction, the authors describe the symbiotic relationship between book jacket design and the invention of the blurb, first used in 1910, and discuss top designers and the evolution of certain graphic styles. Then we get to the plates, and they are stunning: eye-catching, bold, and tantalizing. And it doesn't hurt that these were the years of some of the finest fiction every written. Heller and Chwast have selected jackets for three different editions of Joyce's Ulysses, for books by Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Lawrence, Steinbeck, and Chandler, and for a slew of mysteries and thrillers. There's nothing wrong with judging these books by their covers: it's art inside and out. Donna Seaman
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Top Customer Reviews
Another thing---for a book that is about the style from 1920-1950, there are jackets (especially in the Romance section) that are more expressive of the (more romantic) style of 1900 to 1920 book jackets. Examples are pages: 40 (Cimarron), 79, 78 (the bottom two), 74 (His own Rooftree, and notice the incredible art nouveau building in the background! It's not commented on in the caption, but that building is circa 1900, and it's appearance on a book jacket in 1933 is unique, to say the least.)
One last thing---on page 17, the paperback covers of the 1950s are referred to as crass, but on page is an Ellery Queen jacket that's exactly like many of the paperback covers of the late 30's, 40s, & early 50s.
Mostly, however, this book is fabulous. The caption on page 80 is spot-on!
Chronicle Books is very good at this type of book. They are to be congratulated for publishing very nice books about book covers.
You'll see and admire outstanding examples of their dust jackets in this 1995 Chronicle Books title written and illustrated by Seymour Chast, one of the founders and principals of Push Pin Studios, the graphic design firm, and Stephen Heller, then a senior art director at "The New York Times." If you are book collector with a taste for outstanding dust jackets, "Jackets Required" offers treasure after treasure worthy of your search.
After a useful introductory history of dust jacket art and technology, the authors present a long section of jackets from works of fiction, a shorter one for nonfiction and then a series of chapters devoted to the work of six notable designers from the period starting with E. McKnight Kauffer (who designed many great covers for Modern Library); W. A. Dwiggins (also active and influential at the turn of the century); Arthur Hawkins, Jr.; George Salter; (check out his cover for "Atlas Shrugged "); Alvin Lustig (a mainstay for New Directions) and Paul Rand.
The selection of Lustig covers includes those he did for Tennessee Williams' "27 Wagons Full of Cotton," Djuna Barnes' "Nightwood", Franz Kafka's "Amerika" and Nathaniel West's "Miss Lonely Hearts". Each one distinguished and, with a bit of luck, still possible to find as may be Kauffer's designs for Modern library. See End Note. Among other appealing examples in the collection are A.W's art deco design for "Why Worry" (Lippincott, 1932) and Gorska's design for Erle Stanley Gardner's "The Case of the Velvet Claws" (Grosset & Dunlap, 1933(). Example after example, this is a rich collection of (mostly) American graphic designs.
End note. Availability. The thriving internet market for out of print books allows a collector to see if a desired book is available. For example. A copy of the 1947 Modern Library edition of the "Maltese Falcon" by Dashiel Hammett for which E. McKnight Kauffer designed a splendid jacket is listed on Addall.com for $50.00. But hurry. There is only one.
These jackets are such a contrast to the covers shown in a book I recently reviewed, 'The Great American Paperback', a colorful collection of six hundred covers (annoyingly designed so that they nearly all overlapp each other) from the forties, fifties and sixties. These covers are extremely conservative in their design approach, a predictable painting with crude typography for the title. It was not until the mid-sixties that paperback publishers turned to eye-catching paintings and photography with intergrated typography.
In contrast the covers in 'Jackets Required' are bursting with creativity, the chapter on non-fiction has some particularly striking designs. The back of the book has a portfolio of six designers including my favorites, Alvin Lustig and Paul Rand. There is a designer and title index, someting that was sadly missing from 'The Great American Paperback.
Heller and Chwast have produced a super book that design students and fans of popular culture will enjoy for a long time.