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A UNION OF FUNCTION AND FORM

GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT COVERS: LOOKING MODERN

As American designers started to focus their efforts on cover design, they felt compelled to justify putting so much effort into an object so often discounted as crassly commercial. One way designers seemed to come to terms with this problem was to consider the cover as a part of the larger project of designing an entire book. An adventuresome cover design might be created by an illustrator who had the task of creating images for the interior of the book, as was the case with Rockwell Kent and his Art Deco woodcut designs for editions of PAUL BUNYAN and MOBY DICK . This dedication to the design of the book as a whole, integrating the cover with the interior, was shared by many of the first generation of American designers to embrace book cover design as a serious endeavor, among them, William A. Dwiggins, George Salter, Ernst Reichl, Arthur Hawkins, and E. McKnight Kauffer. Rather than embracing the subtle formal and theoretical intricacies of modernism, these designers, with the exception of Kauffer, most often attempted to create a new modern look for American book cover design based more or less on stylish, decorative elements.

24

ROCKWELL KENT

1924

PAUL BUNYAN

Harcourt, Brace & Company

By Its Cover  

We all know we're not supposed to judge books by their covers, but the truth is that we do just that nearly every time we walk into a bookst...

By Its Cover  

We all know we're not supposed to judge books by their covers, but the truth is that we do just that nearly every time we walk into a bookst...