A Study of the Impact of Jewish émigrés on the Visual Culture of British Books

Beatrice Debney

The objective of this research paper is to investigate the impact of German-speaking Jewish émigré book artists on the visual culture of British books, following their consequential exile from Germany and Austria during World War Two. The paper will introduce the differences in visual culture in Germany and Britain prior to the Second World War, which will be examined in chapter 1 with reference to an international exhibition in the book arts, which took place in 1927. Chapter 2 will explore the introduction of integrated image and text, and the idea of the book as a ‘harmonious whole’, which was brought to the visual culture of British books by émigrés working in the publishing sector. The final chapter reflects on the impact that Jewish book artists have had on British book design, giving current examples of publications that demonstrate the émigré’s on-going influence. Finally the paper will reflect on how the high quality arts education received by the émigrés continues to inspire todays young people and art students through holistically designed books.


Introduction: The Differences In The Visual Culture Of Germany And Britain Prior To Jewish Emigration

In 1927 an international exhibition was held in Leipzig, Germany, it celebrated the absolute best of book design from twenty countries, including Sweden, France, Germany and Great Britain. In the exhibition catalogue, essays accompany each country’s submissions. It is clear that the author of the British section holds British book design in low regard: ‘this common lack of cooperation between author, artist, publisher and printer… is not easy to correct… the English book of to-day hardly knows any such unity of typography and illustration’ (Internationale Buchkunst-Ausstellung 1927: 130- 131). Meanwhile Germany’s efforts are celebrated as being ‘constantly ascending in its artistic development’ (ed. trans.) (Bockwitz 1927: 53). This paper aims to examine how the gap in visual book culture between Germany and Britain decreased as a result of the immigration of Jewish book artists during World War Two and where this impact can still be seen today.

Visual culture is a broad term that refers to ‘the plethora of ways in which the visual is part of social life’ (Rose 2016: 4). Applied to the study of books this term indicates areas such as the front cover, typography, book size, how a book looks next to others on a shelf, image usage and the relationship between text and image on a page. Throughout the history of books visual components have always been deemed important to the books success. One of the earliest printed books in Western History, the Latin Bible, sometimes known as the Gutenberg-Bible, was highly ornamented, decorated by artists from across Germany (Hellinga 2007: 217) indicating that the visual aspects of the book were considered an important reflection of the content. However, although the visual nature of books has always been important, the introduction of art books didn’t come into being until the late seventeenth/early eighteenth century (Haskell 1987). This was fuelled by a desire funded by upper-class citizens, to fill shelves with beautiful books containing lavish illustrations included in the form of plates separate from the text. This lead to art books such as Recueil Crozat (1729) collated in France by Pierre Crozat, one of several large books cataloguing famous artworks for the rich to enjoy at their leisure (Haskell 1987; British Museum 2017). Initially these art books were an indication of status, owned exclusively by the upper classes. Subsequently art books became less exclusive, although even today editions of catalogues remain expensive, dictating who can access them.

These art books were available to many of the Jewish émigrés who immigrated to Britain, possibly because their culture gave greater value to art education (Nyburg 2014). It is conceivable that early exposure to books of such quality inspired the generation responsible for the ‘renaissance of the book arts’ (Steiner-Prag 1927: 9). They saw the art books potential and wanted to make them accessible to more people whilst retaining the quality. Émigrés of specific interest to this paper are Ludwig Goldscheider and Béla Horovitz, the founders of publishing company Phaidon; Walter and Eva Neurath, founders of publishing house Thames & Hudson; Wolfgang Foges, founder of book-packaging company Adprint. Germany has always been at the heart of book development, Johannes Gutenberg was responsible for ‘the invention of printing with moveable type’ during the fifteenth century, revolutionising the dissemination of knowledge (Hellinga 2007: 207) additionally Alois Senefelder invented lithography in 1798 thus advancing book illustrations worldwide (Visual Arts Encyclopaedia n.d.) and German publisher Albatross was the first company to use the perfect bind for their paperback books (Advantage Bookbinding 2018). Particularly pertinent to this research paper is the era 1900-1938 dubbed as the ‘renaissance of the book arts’ (Steiner-Prag 1927: 9; Nyburg 2014: 100), which led to a diversification of visual components in books. Beginning in German-speaking countries it had a transformative impact worldwide (Nyburg 2014). Centred in Leipzig, Germany the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, founded in 1764 taught buchkunst, which translates to ‘book arts’. The term originated in 1900 to describe the work of those who ‘designed books or typefaces’ (Nyburg 2014: 100) but quickly developed to include any practice that developed the look and feel of a book. During this period a desire to find the best-designed books created a surge in book art competitions as well as the founding of numerous bibliophile societies. Most importantly book publishers became highly interested in investigating the book as a Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) (Nyburg 2014: 100). Collaborations between book artists ensured that each part of the books design reflected its contents creating a ‘harmonious whole,’ referred to in this research paper as a holistic approach (Liebermann 1927, 5; Nyburg 2014, 100).

During the same era Britain was experiencing no such renaissance. Although smaller publishing houses were experimenting with book arts in a similar way to Germany and Austria, it was Europe rather than the UK exerting their influence (Nyburg 2014). On a commercial level, priority was given to the distribution of books over their aesthetics (Feather 2006). As education became compulsory, illiteracy decreased thus encouraging a new reading market (Feather 2006: 147). Publishers became eager to reach this market by creating books not of expensive design, but that, which were cheap and easily reproducible. The Arts and Crafts movement celebrated the visual culture of books but harked back to the past, seeing the Middle Ages as the pinnacle of craftsmanship and bookmaking (Morris 1982). So whilst its conclusion in 1910 could be seen as hindering the development of visual components of British books it could also be argued that the Arts and Crafts movement aimed to recreate the medieval style rather than creating contemporarily, relevant book experiences. This lack of innovation reveals much about the British attitude to visual culture, a country content to remain in the past, apathetic in developing their own style. It was not until thousands of Jews were forced to flee Germany and Austria between 1933-1945 due to the Third Reich and immigrate to Britain that any tangible change to the visual culture of books in Britain occurred. It is from this point on that Germany began to have a huge impact on the visual quality of British books as book artists made their way into British publishing and book design.

Definitions

Art book – a book ‘devoted to art and not primarily about the reproduction of works of art’ that combines text and illustration to become an educational tool (Haskell 1987: 7)

Book art – derives from the German buchkunst, describes a number of book making techniques including cover and page design, typography and illustration (Nyburg 2014: 100)

Artists’ book – ‘A compelling intersection of art and literature. Like books they suggest that they can be held and have their pages turned… Like works of art they can be framed and displayed independently’ (Freschi 2017: 13)

An Examination Of The Differing German And British Approach To The Book As A Harmonious Whole

At the beginning of the twentieth century Germany’s visual book culture was to view the book as a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ (total work of art) (Nyburg 2014: 100). Book artists and publishers in Germany entered the new century eager to bring books into the modern age by relinquishing leather-bound book covers and inventing sans-serif type fonts. The book making process was holistic ‘even when looking at books, one must pay attention to everything, because what is inside is outside … [a] book whose outward appearance combined with their inner content [turns] into a harmonious whole’ (ed. trans.) (Liebermann 1927: 5). Each section of the book was designed with an overall concept in mind; each part equally contributing to the book becoming a work of art. Two key elements in ensuring that the books contents were reflected in the style were the cover and font, reinforcing the book as a holistic object.

Comparatively, the visual culture of British books was that of good quality but stylistically traditional designs. It had not experienced any such progress since the Arts and Crafts movement of 1860-1910, despite the concept of the book as a ‘work of art’ first being theorised as part of this movement (Morris 1982: 67). Book production remained in the industrial era where ‘publishers usually did everything except write the books’ (Carney 1995: 26). William Morris first theorised the book being a ‘work of art’ in his essay The Ideal Book (Morris 1982: 67). Morris writes, about the dwindling state of British book design in 1893 due to the industrial era. In contrast to the progressive attitude of German book artists, Morris criticises new trends, for example the ‘sweltering hideousness of the Bodoni letter’ (Morris 1982: 69) and the publishers new trend of aligning text to the centre of the page rather than to the top inner corner as was done in Medieval printmaking (Morris 1982). The Ideal Book exemplifies the British visual culture attitude as one suspicious of innovation (Feather 2006: 158). It is interesting to note however that when Morris’ theory reached Germany, although they disagreed largely with his intent to remain in the past, they shared his view that the visual culture of books ought to be considered and deliberate and that when type is good and attention is paid to the arrangement of text and graphics on a page that ‘in fact a book, printed or written, has a tendency to be a beautiful object’ (Morris 1982: 67). These differences in approach can be seen through an examination of A.P. Herbert’s The Water Gypsies. Which was published in both Britain and Germany prior to World War Two.

In Britain The Water Gypsies was published in 1930 by Methuen & Co. In Germany the same title was published in 1935 by Zinnen Verlag as part of a number of British and American books that were being republished for the German market at that time (Rosenthal 2015). The relative similarity of the dates makes this a valid comparison, as they will have been produced using similar printing technology. The books will be compared by cover design, typography used within and consideration will be given to the varying levels to which book artists at the time were considering the book as a work of art or ‘harmonious whole’ (Liebermann 1927: 5). Additionally the same book, published by Penguin in 1960 will be considered. Penguin was a publishing house that was heavily influenced by the émigrés for their design of books (Doubleday 2006). The relevance of this final book is that it was published thirty decades after the first publication thus making it possible to gauge what lasting impact the émigrés approach had on British visual culture.

Figure 1. The Water Gypsies – Cover (1930)

Figure 1. The Water Gypsies – Cover (1930)

Figure 2. The Water Gypsies – Cover (1935)

Figure 2. The Water Gypsies – Cover (1935)

Figure 3. The Water Gypsies – Cover (1960)

Figure 3. The Water Gypsies – Cover (1960)

The front covers of each edition links the illustration to the title and inner text by including water, this suggests that each cover artist was aware of the importance of making connections between the narrative within and the outer cover – thus, each book is, according to Liebermann’s definition, working towards creating a harmonious whole. The degrees to which each edition achieves this is paramount in demonstrating the visual culture of books as a work of art prior to emigration and how it has developed since. As the publishing date increases so does the level to which the water is illustrated. The first edition (figure 1) is cloth bound with undulating lines debossed into the card to represent water. The choice of green cloth however proves that the publisher was not considering this book as a whole. Had the publisher been aiming for the book cover to harmoniously encompass the narrative within then a blue cloth may have been more appropriate. The German edition (figure 2) follows a similar style of cover: cloth with debossed illustration and text. This edition was covered in a blue-grey cloth thus encompassing the blue of water and the fog of London where the book is set. Additionally the image gives the reader a more specific idea of what might occur in the book: adventures on a boat, suggesting that the cover artist had holistically collaborated with publisher and author to create a harmonious whole. The influence of the émigrés can be seen in the 1960s edition (figure 3), which achieves a harmonious whole through its detailed ink drawing that reveals multiple characters in the narrative. The artwork combines with the text and provides information to the reader to have a pleasing aesthetic as well as be informative – it is the most holistically considered book cover.

Figure 4. The Water Gypsies – Chapter 1 (1930)

Figure 4. The Water Gypsies – Chapter 1 (1930)

Figure 5. The Water Gypsies – Chapter 1 (1935)

Figure 5. The Water Gypsies – Chapter 1 (1935)

Figure 6. The Water Gypsies – Chapter 1 (1960)

Figure 6. The Water Gypsies – Chapter 1 (1960)

The choice of font also gives indication of the differences in visual culture between Germany and Britain. In both British examples (figures 4 &; 6), a Roman style serif type-font is used, it is a style strongly associated with British literature but does not reflect the narrative in any way or indicate that this is a story for children. Interestingly Germany also uses a traditional typeface, contradicting the theory that the German mode was always in favour of modern and innovative work. The German edition (figure 5) used the Blackletter typeface that is linked historically to Germany from its use in the Latin Bible to Nazi propaganda (Bain 1999). It is also associated with books such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales; it represents a choice made by the typographer and author working holistically in order to create a fictional environment in which the reader can get lost. The font embodies the purpose of the book and is a stylistic decision resulting from the holistic approach of the German book artists.

The 1927 Der Internationalen Buchkunst-Ausstellung (The International Art Book Exhibition (ed. trans)) held in Leipzig exhibited the best in the book arts from 20 countries around the world. Leipzig was chosen as the host city due to its established dominance in book arts education at the Horschule für Graphik und Buchkunst. Graphic designer and illustrator, Hugo Steiner-Prag, writes in the forward of the exquisitely designed exhibition catalogue that the aim of the exhibition is to give an ‘overview of modern book-art and book-graphic creation…above all, it shows the renaissance of the book arts of all the participating states in the full force of their creative work and at the height of their creative activity’ (ed. trans) (Steiner-Prag, 1927: 7). One of the disciplines being exhibited was bookbinding. It is interesting to compare two cover artists, British bookbinder Katherine Adams and German book artist Paul Kersten, as it reveals these countries at the ‘height of their creative activity’ (ed. trans) (Steiner-Prag 1927: 7). Katherine Adams (1862- 1952) studied under Sarah Prideaux, the leading bookbinder of her time (Booktryst 2010). Adams’ design style can be placed firmly in the English Arts and Crafts movement of 1860-1910, influenced by her close friendships with William Morris’ daughters and having Kelmscott Press, Morris’ publishing house, as a patron of her work. Her discipline involves leather-bound books decorated using self-made tools to create golden designs inspired by nature (Bodleian Libraries n.d.). At the turn of the nineteenth century Britain and France were in fact the leaders in bookbinding (Uzanne 1902). This discipline is demonstrated throughout Adams’ work, for example her cover designed for Queen Mary’s Psalter in 1912 (figures 7 & 8) is a wonderful showcase of what Britain does well. However it too is firmly set in the Arts and Crafts movement with no move towards the avant-garde. The gold leaf boarder on the front has very little relation to the religious psalms within although the design does use a crown motif to show the royal status of the book. However the exhibition called for ‘new book art’ (ed. trans) (Steiner-Prag 1927: 11) and if this is the height of Britain’s experiments in the book arts then it shows it to be a country lost in the past.

 
Figure 7. Queen Mary’s Psalter (1) K Adams (1912)

Figure 7. Queen Mary’s Psalter (1) K Adams (1912)

Figure 8. Queen Mary’s Psalter (2) K. Adams (1912)

Figure 8. Queen Mary’s Psalter (2) K. Adams (1912)

 

Paul Kersten (1865-1943), one of the exhibited German book artists, was also a book cover artist. Kersten’s work however offers a stark contrast to Adams’ designs; the work he produced around the time of the exhibition demonstrates clearly what Der Internationalen Buchkunst-Ausstellung was curated for. A catalogue of binding designs he collaborated on with Paul Klein published just one year after the exhibition is a clear contrast to Adams. Paul Kersten And Paul Klein Forty Contemporary Designs For Artistic Volume Bindings (ed. trans) (figures 9 –11) is an example of an artist designing a book cover rather than a ‘bookbinder’. It is an early example of books taking on ‘non-formal aspects: books as document, as object, as idea’ (Carrión 1980 in Klima 1998). To begin with the colour choices are rich primary colours as opposed to dull leather, they are striking and captivate an audience. The motifs he uses take inspiration from the Art Deco movement, demonstrating how aware German book artists were of the continuously developing art world. By incorporating nuances from contemporary art movements, the general public were being exposed to new visual thinking via the medium of the book. Additionally, these books are quite literally becoming ‘works of art’ in their own right, a key reason for the success of German book artists. From Kersten’s work it is clear German book art ‘has been constantly ascending in its artistic development’ (ed. trans.) (Steiner-Prag 1927: 11) and at this point represents how a book can truly be a total work of art.

 
Figure 10. Blatt 13 P. Kersten (1928)

Figure 10. Blatt 13 P. Kersten (1928)

Figure 11. Blatt 17 P. Kersten (1928)

Figure 11. Blatt 17 P. Kersten (1928)

Figure 12. Blatt 13 P. Kersten (1928)

Figure 12. Blatt 13 P. Kersten (1928)

 

Following this exhibition many more have continued to celebrate the very best of the book arts. The most notable of the twenty-first century is The Most Beautiful Books From All Over The World 4 (ed. trans), which is judged every year in Leipzig. The prizes are awarded at the Leipzig Book Fair. It takes on the task of selecting ‘fourteen outstandingly designed books from about 700 of the best books from more than 30 countries’ (Stifung Buchkunst n.d.). It feels incredibly appropriate that almost a century later and after the huge disruption during the 1930’s to 1940’s that Leipzig continues to be at the heart of the book arts. The fact that this competition exists is proof that Germany’s high standards of book design have been pushing not only the progression of book design in Britain, but all over the world since the 1900s.

The Influence Of The Émigrés On The Integration Of Text And Image In British Books

Having examined visual book culture in Germany and Britain pre-emigration, the paper will now look at the most highly influential change that the émigré book artists had on British books: the integration of image and text. Prior to the influx of Jewish émigrés during the 1930s publishers were creating books that were predominately text based. Printing illustrations was complicated and expensive so wherever possible it was avoided. Where it was necessary, for example in art books, the images would be printed on photographic paper and placed together either at the end or the centre of the book. This technique, despite reducing costs, disrupted the reading experience by forcing the reader to switch between pages in order to reference the author’s text. By doing this the purpose of the book as an informative tool is hindered. It also reduced the satisfaction of reading for enjoyment, an integral purpose of a book. ‘A fundamental way we understand concepts and phenomena is through metaphorical structuring, by selectively mapping characteristics of one thing into another in a never-ending web of interrelated knowledge’ (Peterson 2014: 4) the relationship between text and image is imperative to understanding the entire intent of the author. Barry Pegg argues that the addition of image to text has led to four relationships between these two forms growing from this point. He states

‘Images can be ancillary where they are placed in a position near to the parts of the text they relate to, leaving

the work of relating text to image to the reader; images can be correlative or integrative, where images …

indicate specific points of contact between the text and the image … [or] images can be substantive where the

image and the text are combined within single compositional forms’ (Pegg 2002 in Bateman 2014: 45)

Some consideration must be made in the applications of the terms ‘text’ and ‘image’ so as to avoid confusion. Within the theory of semiotics the definition of ‘text’ covers almost anything that can be ‘considered to have meaning’ (Bateman 2014: 13). In relation to books however, text is defined in a more literal sense as the words that can be read on the page, cover and inserts. Images have for a long time been seen as a ‘natural and readily understood’ language that is largely universal depending on shared culture (Bateman 2014: 12). Once again, for the purpose of this paper, the term is literal, referring to any printed graphic, whether that be front cover design, an illustration, photograph, painting, graph, woodcut or other means of artistic method to translate shapes onto paper which, whilst they could resemble letters, are presented in such a way that their primary purpose is decorative and/or supplementary.

The British culture of reading in the early twentieth century was relatively elitist, available to those with higher education and who could afford the luxury of purchasing. These books were often designed to exclude those who could not read by including few illustrations and densely packing pages with small text. This exclusion of lower classes was something that the socially engaged émigrés were passionate about reducing. When they came to designing books such as Britain in Pictures (1941-1950) the émigrés purposefully heavily illustrated their contents with drawings, photographs and paintings. The ‘natural and readily understood’ language of the image (Bateman 2014: 12) meant that these texts were more accessible to a wider audience. Britain in Pictures was a positive propaganda series orchestrated by Hilde Matheson, published by Collins, to uplift British morale and strengthen ties with sympathetic allies abroad. Packaged by émigré company Adprint, headed by Wolfgang Foges, the series was the company’s most successful project to integrate image with text by printing them next to one another on a page spread (figures 12 & 13). Britain in Pictures comprised of 126 books in which there were 1,040 colour plates and 2,869 black-and-white illustrations (Carney 1995: 45). As the name implies the books were image heavy, and followed a design guideline implemented by another émigré, Walter Neurath. Each book consisted of 8-12 full-colour illustrations and 11-33 black-and-white illustrations, this left space only for 12-14,000 words, the equivalent of 30 pages (Carney 1995: 45). Walter Neurath, who came from a background in book artistry in Austria before emigrating, took inspiration from the German Die Blauen Bücher (The Blue Book), which was a volume of books that covered topics such as German architecture, landscapes and classical art. These were designed to strengthen nationalistic feelings that were often popular among those who felt that their homeland was threatened by the first and second world wars (Nyburg 2014: 154-155).

This design had not been seen before in Britain and was generally popular. The author of Wild Flowers in Britain (1944) described the illustrations as ‘very beautiful and [to] have a historical flavour in pleasant harmony with the text’ (Carney 1995: 47-8). His choice of words here is an interesting echo of the phrase ‘harmonious whole’ associated with the German and Austrian ‘renaissance of the book arts’, suggesting that Britain was beginning to close the gap between the qualities of book artistry due to the émigrés influence. Many of the authors enjoyed using the integration technique to their advantage, both Adam Smith of Children’s Illustrated Books (1948) and Peter Bicknell of British Hills and Mountains (1947), worked specifically on ensuring that the images had relevance to the text they shared a spread with (Carney 1995: 48). The authors who embraced the integration were successful because ‘the text and the image need to have been presented together as joint contributions to a single, perhaps complex, ‘message’. The crucial restriction drawn is then: intended co-presence of concrete text-material with concrete image-material…both text and image need moreover to be visually co-present’ in order for readers to gain the full understanding of the text (Bateman 2014: 25). This can be seen in British Romantic Artists (1942) (figure 12), the text reads ‘there is beauty in them – the beauty of pines against streaky sunsets – but it is an echoed beauty’ (Piper 1946: 32), it is descriptive wording, made more powerful when correlated with the colour image on the adjacent page. The ‘message’ that Bateman refers to is more easily communicated when text and image are used in conjunction.

 
Figure 12. British Romantic Artists, 32-33 John Piper (1942)

Figure 12. British Romantic Artists, 32-33 John Piper (1942)

Figure 13. British Romantic Artists, 16-17 John Piper (1942)

Figure 13. British Romantic Artists, 16-17 John Piper (1942)

 
 

One largely unresolved issue of the Britain in Pictures series is the orientation of the colour images. In much of the series the landscape colour illustrations are orientated differently to the text. Neurath criticises this choice saying that ‘nobody could be bothered to keep turning the book round to see the pictures’ (Nyburg 2014: 155). It is unclear whether as a direct result of Neurath’s objections that in some cases, for example the second edition of British Romantic Artists (1946) (figure 13) some colour images are orientated the same way as the text. The value gained by the eye being able to absorb the textual and graphic meaning simultaneously heightens the informative purpose of the book. The colour illustrations remain technically plates, printed on a higher quality of paper. As a solution to grouping these plates into one section the design team chose to print each of the outer pages of a signature on the thicker paper. This distribution of colour plates throughout the book provokes visual interest as well as heightening the educational reading experience. Furthermore 11-33 black-and-white illustrations scattered throughout mean that in the entire series of Britain in Pictures there is rarely a page with no image supporting it, the significance being that the shared language of image allows the readership of Britain in Pictures to be of a wider age and social demographic, ultimately bringing together a nation in a time of turmoil.

On the other hand the new technique was sometimes disparaged. Wolfgang Foges was a pioneer for the popularisation of colour images within books and so included them to a higher ratio than the British public were used to. This lead to Phillip Tonybee criticising the series as ‘non-books for non-readers’ (Nyburg 2014: 156) which further proves that many higher class readers saw the book as a space predominantly for written information and the inclusion of the easier understood language of images meant the inclusion of lower class readers too. This democratization of books was a task many émigré book artists and publishers were passionate about. As well as breaking up dense text with image, books were produced in long print runs and printed abroad to reduce the retail price (Nyburg 2014), a technique that the descendants of Phaidon and Thames & Hudson still employee today.

The Book As A ‘Harmonious Whole’ Today: How The Influence Of The Émigré Can Still Be Seen In British Art Book

The final chapter of this paper will examine how the continued impact of the émigré’s evolutionary style can be seen in British art books today. This will include the continuation and development of integrated images and text in art books with a focus on those published by the émigré company Phaidon. Phaidon still reflects the values of the original German-speaking Jewish émigrés such as increasing accessibility to arts education by retaining low retail prices and producing books that are highly informative and simultaneously engaging.

One publication that is an excellent example of the on-going émigré’s style is The Art Book (figure 14) first published by Phaidon in 1994. The book follows on from Gombrich’s The Story of Art (1997), Phaidon’s most successful publication, which has not gone out of print since its first edition in 1950. The Art Book seeks to ‘present a whole new way of looking at art… by breaking with traditional classifications, The Art Book presents a fresh and original approach to art’ (Phaidon Editors 1997: 3). This is achieved through considered choices over the ratio of text to image and how the two integrate. Each of the 500 pages is dedicated to one artist with a coloured plate accompanying a short piece of text. There is no doubt that Phaidon is aware that concise, excellently researched text combined with an image are able to communicate clearly to a large majority, especially when ‘presented together as joint contributions to a single, perhaps complex, ‘message’’ (Bateman 2014: 25).

Figure 14. The Art Book, 246-247 Phaidon Press

Figure 14. The Art Book, 246-247 Phaidon Press

The design of the book is consistent with the émigré’s holistic objective; each part of the book has been created with the overall intention in mind. The Art Book achieves this in the following ways. Its primary intention is to act as an anthology that becomes a stimulating platform inspiring the reader to delve further into the subject of art. With this in mind clarity is paramount, thus the book is arranged alphabetically from A-Z making it accessible to those who know languages based on the most widely used writing system, the Latin alphabet (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2019). Additionally the systematic format of one artist per page removes editorial bias allowing the reader to be self-directing in the choices they make. Once that choice has been made each page includes a suggestion of three to six other artists that relate by style, genre or movement, which furthers the reader’s self-led understanding, making this book a tool for art education rather than for the aesthetics of the images alone. Finally, this is an art book made to travel rather than become a coffee table centrepiece and so it is pocket sized and paperback. This serves the dual purpose of keeping print costs down as well as allowing the reader to flick through the pages of a portable object, a feature often missed in the larger hardback art book. These are all elements that were being considered in Germany and Austria in the early twentieth-century for example the portable nature of the book can be traced back to Penguin books that were inspired by German Publisher Albatross (Doubleday 2006). These were designed to be both practical to carry around and aesthetically pleasing. In the case of The Art Book it seems as though Phaidon has created a book that the founders of the company would have loved to have read as children, it is a source book of fantastic inspiration that concisely and compactly holds all the information required for its purpose whilst being a visually pleasing object in its own right.

 
Figure 15. The Art of Looking Sideways, Front Cover Phaidon Press

Figure 15. The Art of Looking Sideways, Front Cover Phaidon Press

 

The integration of image and text on a page has evolved since the phenomenon was first seen in the 1940s. Experimental publishers now collaborate with experimental authors who seek to break the barrier between text and image. Another of Phaidon’s newer publications, The Art of Looking Sideways (2001) (figure 15.) is such a book. The book begins on the cover, which immediately sets a precedent that from this point on the reader is expected to view their ideas from a new angle as the cover requires the book to be turned in order to be read. This layout reflects the same standards of innovative design that the book artists were displaying in Der Internationalen Buchkunst-Ausstellung in 1927 where the way the book cover combines harmoniously with the inner contents (Liebermann 1927: 5), demonstrates how a book can be a work of art whilst maintaining its functionality. The design of the front cover is a literal translation of the title and the multiple potential book titles written on the jacket reflect the multiple potential uses of the book. When interviewed, the author, Alan Fletcher even suggests that it could be used as a doorstop; he goes on to describe it as ‘a cross between a collage and a box’ (Fletcher 2010). For him it is a book about seeing and engaging the five senses as ‘we think in pictures’ (Fletcher 2010). Inside the book the spreads of each page are unique apart from the ‘chapter titles’, which follow a structure of white text on black paper with an accompanying illustration on the opposite page. The spread is purposefully designed to give space for the reader to breath, intended to act like a scene change in a movie (Fletcher 2010). According to Frederico Freschi’s definition it is possible to argue that The Art of Looking Sideways is in fact not an art book but an artists’ book.

‘Artists’ books exist at a compelling intersection of art and literature. Like books they suggest that they can be

held and have their pages turned, their narratives unfolding in the mind of the reader as they invite direct, physical

engagement. Like works of art, they can be framed and displayed independently, their imagery and often complex

materiality inviting contemplation and imaginative reconstruction in the mind of the viewer.’ (Freschi 2017: 13)

An examination of the pages within compels the reader to engage with the book in precisely this fashion; this is a book ‘for visually curious people’ (Fletcher 2010). Because of the innovative use of integrated image and text any page could be singled out as a stand-alone work of art. And yet because of its form as a book there is a narrative automatically derived by each page’s relationship to the pages that occur before and after it. The relationship between image and text is substantive, ‘where the image and the text are combined within single compositional forms’ (Pegg 2002 in Bateman 2014: 45); the combination directs the reader to take potentially different meanings than what would be derived if the image and text were ancillary. The multimedia appearance can often make it difficult to distinguish the difference between what is text and what is image. Fletcher has purposefully employed a variety of fonts and layouts as he believes that the ‘typography tries to express the sentiment’ (Fletcher 2010). It is an assembly of ideas that forces the reader to decode both the semiotic and semantic thus making the reading experience richer.

 
Figure 16. The Art of Looking Sideways, spread Phaidon Press

Figure 16. The Art of Looking Sideways, spread Phaidon Press

 

Additionally the émigrés were intent on bringing books, particularly ones exploring the subject of art, to the general public. In this way they were instrumental to the process of the democratization of art. It is arguable that this ethos can be seen in artists’ book trends, particularly during the seventies and eighties, the era of the ‘democratic multiple’ (White 2012). Democratic multiples were books created by liberal artists who aimed to democratize art by bringing it out of the white-walled gallery environment into a wider audience (White 2012: 46). These were a rejection to the artists’ books of the sixties where books were created but remained within the pre-established art crowd. This idealism chimes with the émigré belief that art belonged to everyone. The late twentieth century artists took inspiration from the émigré technique of long print runs that would reduce printing costs as this meant their books could be sold cheaper and therefore a wider demographic would have access to buy them.


Conclusion: The Legacy Of The German-Speaking Jewish Émigrés On The Visual Culture Of British Books

Since their forced emigration in the 1930s, the German-speaking book artists have had a huge impact on the visual culture of British books. They have bridged the gap between the visual components of German and British books by treating the book as a total work of art. Each section of a book made under the holistic supervision of an émigré in Britain has been treated as equally important as any other part. Resulting in beautiful books that harmoniously bond so that each design point reflects the purpose of the book. Prior to the immigration Britain was rooted in the past, refusing to embrace the twentieth century. The émigrés moved the visual culture forward by integrating image and text on a spread to improve the reading experience, transforming it into something both educational and enjoyable. Simultaneously they democratised the book by including a visual language understood by a larger demographic. They increased the number of people who could enjoy art by combining their book art prowess with their understanding of long print-runs to publish art books that were affordable, understandable and practical; values their companies continue to uphold today. Companies such as Phaidon and Thames & Hudson continue to inspire a new generation of art lovers and potential book artists by providing them with art books to fuel their passions.

In the twenty-first century more than ever, the British public desire to fill their shelves with beautiful books. This is no longer exclusively available to the upper classes, as was the case at the conception of art books, but can be

 
Figure 17. Collections for Interior Designs [screenshot]

Figure 17. Collections for Interior Designs [screenshot]

 

In the twenty-first century more than ever, the British public desire to fill their shelves with beautiful books. This is no longer exclusively available to the upper classes, as was the case at the conception of art books, but can be afforded by the majority because of the émigré’s active passion that beautiful books ought to be owned by everyone. Today Phaidon even sells a range of pre-selected collections based on their cover designs (figure 17). This is not to say that publishers such as Phaidon and Thames & Hudson do not produce books that are exclusive and expensive, a portion of their readership and the type of work they produce demands that some books will cost more, but it will always be because the intention of the book dictates that it has to be so rather than for monetary gain.

The émigrés began a cycle; the art books they had access to as part of their culture when growing up inspired them to create even better art books themselves. These books, with their use of integrated text and image have now integrated into British culture. Their publications play ‘a special role in the education of young people in general and art students in particular’ (Nyburg 2014: 180) who are undoubtedly continuing this cycle as is evident through the 85 art publishers currently creating books in the United Kingdom (Publishers Global 2015). It is a testament to Neurath and Foges that their once radical idea regarding the integration of text and image is now customary in British books, a contribution to the visual culture that many British readers are unaware of and yet enjoy daily.

The lasting legacy of the émigrés to British visual culture can be summed up on the About Page of Phaidon’s website: ‘Each book is designed meticulously and the content carefully curated and edited to showcase creativity and imagination that can inspire us all’ (Phaidon n.d.). The émigré’s inherent way of seeing the book as a total work of art has shaped the British visual landscape into one that is full of holistically curated books whose integrated image and text harmoniously bond with their purpose; to educate and inspire generations to come.


List Of References

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Bockwitz, H. (1927) ‘Deutsches Reich [German Empire]’ in Amtlicher Katalog Der Internationalen Buchkunst Ausstellung Leipzig 1927 [Official Catalogue Of The International Book Arts Exhibition Liepzig 1927]. Leipzig: Insel Verlag, 50-53

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Carney, M. (1995) Britain in Pictures: A History and Bibliography. London: Werner Shaw Ltd.

Doubleday, R. (2006) Jan Tschichold Designer: The Penguin Years. New Castle: Oak Knoll Press

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Morris, W., Peterson, W. (ed.) (1982) The Ideal Book: Essays and Lectures on the Arts of the Book. Berkeley: University of California Press

Nyburg, A (2014) Emigrés: The Transformation of Art Publishing in Britain. London: Phaidon Press

Peterson, M. (2014) The Integration of Text and Image, Its Cognitive Impacts for Learning with Media, and Science Instruction: A Ph.D. in Design Study. Cincinnati: University of Cincinnati

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Smith, A. (1948) Children’s Illustrated Books. London: Collins

Steiner-Prag, H. (1927) ‘Vortwort [Forward]’ in Amtlicher Katalog Der Internationalen Buchkunst Ausstellung Leipzig ] [Official Catalogue Of The International Book Arts Exhibition Liepzig 1927]. Leipzig: Insel Verlag, 9-11

Stiftung Buchkunst (n.d.) The Competition “Best Book Design From All Over The World” [online] available from <http://www.stiftung-buchkunst.de/en/best-book-design-from-all-over-the-world.html> [16th October 2018]

Uzanne, O. (1902) ‘Paul Kersten’s Leather Work’. The Studio: An Illustrated Magazine of Fine and Applied Art 24 (104), 112-117

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List Of Figures

Figure 1. Debney, B. (2018) The Water Gypsies – 1930 – Cover [scan]

Figure 2. Debney, B. (2018) The Water Gypsies – 1935 – Cover [scan]

Figure 3. Debney, B. (2018) The Water Gypsies – 1960 – Cover [scan]

Figure 4. Debney, B. (2018) The Water Gypsies – 1930 – Chapter 1 [scan]

Figure 5. Debney, B. (2018) The Water Gypsies – 1935 – Chapter 1 [scan]

Figure 6. Debney, B. (2018) The Water Gypsies – 1960 – Chapter 1 [scan]

Figure 7. Royal Collection Trust (n.d.) Queen Mary’s Psalter 1912 [online]

available from <https://www.rct.uk/collection/1080356/queen-marys-psalter> [11th January 2019] (1)

Figure 8. Royal Collection Trust (n.d.) Queen Mary’s Psalter 1912 [online] available from <https://www.rct.uk/collection/1080356/queen-marys-psalter> [11th January 2019] (2)

Figure 9. Kersten, P (1928) Blatt 9 [online scan] available from <http://pressbengel.blogspot.com/search/label/Paul%20Kersten> [11th January 2019]

Figure 10. Kersten, P (1928) Blatt 13 [online scan] available from <http://pressbengel.blogspot.com/search/label/Paul%20Kersten> [11th January 2019]

Figure 11. Kersten, P (1928) Blatt 17 [online scan] available from <http://pressbengel.blogspot.com/search/label/Paul%20Kersten> [11th January 2019]

Figure 12. Debney, B (2019) British Romantic Artists 32-33 [scan]

Figure 13. Debney, B (2019) British Romantic Artists 16-17 [scan]

Figure 14. Phaidon Press (2019) The Art Book –Gallery [online] available from <https://uk.phaidon.com/store/art/the-art-book-9780714867960/> [10th January 2019]
Figure 15. It’s Nice That (2018) The Art of Looking Sideways – Cover [online] available from <https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/the-art-of-looking-sideways> [13th January 2019]

Figure 16. It’s Nice That (2018) The Art of Looking Sideways – Spread [online] available from <https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/the-art-of-looking-sideways> [13th January 2019]

Figure 17. Debney, B. (2019) Gift: For Interior Designers, Phaidon Website [screenshot]

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