Various book spines, 1930s © TASCHEN © TASCHEN


Goethe-Institut New York

Various book spines, 1930s © TASCHEN

The years between the First and Second World Wars in Germany are famed for their cultural boom. With Berlin as its epicenter, the Weimar Republic was replete with ground-breaking literature, philosophy, and art. At the heart of this intellectual and creative hub were some of the most outstanding and forward-thinking book designs in history.
Jürgen Holstein's The Book Cover in the Weimar Republic (TASCHEN, 2015) assembles 1,000 of the most striking examples from this golden age of publishing. Part reference compendium, part vintage visual feast for the eyes, this very particular cultural history is at once a testament to an irretrievable period of promise and a celebration of the ambition, inventiveness, and beauty of the book. Based on the Jürgen and Waltraud Holstein Collection, this unparalleled catalog of dust jackets and bindings highlights the leading figures and particular energy of the Weimar publishing world. Expert essays discuss the aesthetic and cultural context of these precious fourteen years in which a freewheeling spirit flourished, only to be trampled, burned, or driven out of the country with the rise of National Socialism.

Nicholas Blechman, creative director of The New Yorker, Julius Wiedemann, Executive Editor for Design and Pop Culture at TASCHEN, and Alta L. Price, the English-language translator of the catalog, come together to discuss how and why these book covers were created, and what they have to say to us today.

This event is presented in collaboration with TASCHEN.

Nicholas Blechman is an internationally recognized illustrator, designer and art director, based in New York. His award winning illustrations have appeared in GQ, Travel + Leisure, Wired, and The New York Times. He is currently the Creative Director of The New Yorker. Blechman is the former Art Director of The New York Times Book Review, and The New York Times Op-Ed page. Since 1990, he has published, edited, and designed the political underground magazine NOZONE, featured in the Smithsonian Institution’s Design Triennial. He has taught design at the School of Visual Arts and illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Blechman is the author of Fresh Dialogue One: New Voices in Graphic Design, 100% EVIL, Nozone IX: EMPIRE and most recently Nozone X: Forecast.

Alta L. Price runs a publishing consultancy specialized in literature and nonfiction texts on art, architecture, design, and culture. She translates from Italian and German into English and was awarded the Gutekunst Prize for her translation of Dea Loher’s novel Bugatti taucht auf. Her most recent books include The Book Cover in the Weimar Republic, Corrado Augias’s The Secrets of Italy (Rizzoli Ex Libris, 2014), illustrator Beppe Giacobbe’s Visionary Dictionary (Lazy Dog Press, 2013), and Marco Biraghi’s Project of Crisis (MIT Press, 2013). She is currently vice president of the New York Circle of Translators.

Julius Wiedemann was born in Brazil, where he studied design and marketing, and has lived and worked in Japan, Germany, and the UK. He has been Executive Editor for Design and Pop Culture at TASCHEN since 2001 and has edited more than 50 books. Wiedemann’s publications have sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide. Among his most popular titles are Information Graphics, Understanding the World, Product Design in the Sustainable Era, and the TASCHEN series on record covers.

Praise for The Book Cover in the Weimar Republic

“The use of sans-serif typefaces, photomontage, and aggressive imagery makes a lot of these designs more lively than most anything on bookstore shelves in 2015.”
— Dan Piepenbring, The Paris Review
“The wide range of approaches is exciting for various reasons. This is the first accessible critical mass of fiction, non-fiction, art, textbooks and children’s book covers and jackets ever assembled.”
— Steven Heller, Design Observer
“The release of a monograph such as this one is a big deal for designers like us, important not only because the work that [it] comprises is so inspiring aesthetically, but also because these designs present a new historical context for our own contemporary covers.”
— Peter Mendelsund, The New York Times Sunday Book Review