The Momentum of Modernism 1920-1930

The momentum of modernism, interrupted by World War I, was unleashed afterwards in the “Roaring Twenties.” Cubism and Dada were established styles by then, not outrageous affronts to aesthetic propriety. From this period onwards, artists’ books generally consisted of two forms. Accessible, inexpensively produced volumes, often of revolutionary design, with photomechanical reproductions conveyed ideas and images to the greatest number of persons. Fernand Léger’s La Fin du Monde (1919) is an extraordinary example of such a publication. Other artists’ books were more traditional works in which the tendency was to use only original prints and the finest papers and bindings to create sumptuous volumes that were referred to as livres d’artistes. The range and variety of artists’ books created in this decade are in keeping with the frenetic nature of the period.

Il était une petite pie (There Was a Little Magpie) by Lise Hirtz

Book with 8 pochoir illustrations on Japanese vellum paper; loose in wrappers; protective board covered with linen.

La Création: Les Trois premiers livres de la Genèse

La Création: Les Trois premiers livres de la Genèse suivis de la généalogie Adamique (Creation: The First Three Books of Genesis).

Zlom by Konstantin Biebl

Prague: Odeon, 1928. Book with 4 line block reproductions on yellow paper, text on Holland Van Gelder laid paper; loose in blue wove wrappers with image and text on front.

Contemporary Architecture (CA2)

Russian language book with original illustrations. Published 1929.

The Modernism Gallery

A portrait of Fernand Leger

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