History is a complex business. Fortunes boom and bust, empires wax and wane, and change—whether social, political, or technological—has its winners, its losers, its advocates, and its enemies. Through all the turbulent passage of time, graphic design—with its vivid, neat synthesis of image and idea—has distilled the spirit of each age.
This new book, The History of Graphic Design: 1890–1959, offers a comprehensive history of graphic design from the end of the 19th century to the remains of World War II. It traces the evolution of this creative field from its beginning as poster design to its further development into advertising, corporate identity, packaging, and editorial design.
Organised chronologically, the volume features over 2,500 seminal designs from all over the world, seventy-two of which are profiled in detail beside 57 leaders in the field, including Alphonse Mucha (chocolate advertisements), Edward Johnston (London Underground logo and typeface), El Lissitzky (constructivist graphic), Herbert Matter (photomontage travel posters from Switzerland), Saul Bass (animated opening titles), and A. M. Cassandre (art deco posters).
With his sweeping knowledge of the field, author Jens Müller curates the standout designs of each year alongside a sidebar of design milestones. Meanwhile, in his introductory essay, David Jury situates graphic design from its point of origin in 19th-century printing, engraving, and lithography, where striking creative differences were already to be seen in theatre posters and newspaper advertisements.
Each consecutive decade is then prefaced by a succinct overview as well as a stunning visual timeline, offering a vivid display of the variety of graphics production in each decade as well as the global landscape which it at once described and defined.
As we move on from and reflect upon the 20th century, this staggering collection represents the foundations of what would influence some of the fastest changing creative fields, and a long-overdue recognition of the enormous contribution graphic design has made to economics, politics, social causes, arts, media, and the way we see the world.
The History of Graphic Design: 1890–1959 is published by TASCHEN and will be available in January for £49.99. All images courtesy of the publisher.