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.

Tales Told of Shem and Shaun

Three Fragments from Work in Progress by James Joyce (Paris: The Black Sun Press, 1929).

La Femme 100 Tetes

Book with original illustrations (Éditions du Carrefour, 1929).

Calligrammes by Guillaume Apollinaire

Book with 68 lithographs (including duplicates on title page and wrapper front) on ivory laid China paper; loose within pulisher's ivory laid China paper.

L'Arbre des voyageurs by Tristan Tzara

Book with 4 lithographs on Arches wove paper; bound in rust morocco leather with gold tooling on the covers and gold lettering on the spine, raised bands.

Le Paradis Musulman: Selon le texte et la traduction du Dr. J. C. Mardrus

Book with 31 wood engravings (color) on Japan paper; bound in brown leather with brown and blue leather insert with gold tooling. (Schmied, 1930).

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The Modernism Gallery

A portrait of Fernand Leger

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