Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bruno Munari: Pioneer of the Modernist Book

Abecedario de Munari
Image credit: Rome: Emanuele Prandi, 1942

Italian artist and designer, Bruno Munari (1907—1998) wore many creative caps over the course of his artistic career. In the late 1920s, he engaged in the Futurist painting movement and took part in group exhibitions at the Venice Biennale. He focused his interests on the book as object near this same time and found it unnecessary to fill the page with words. Although spare, Munari's books were typographically rich in content and imagery. This devotion to the design of books never ceased throughout his seventy-year career. This 1935 Abecedario di Munari title is seen as one of the great modernist ABC books of all time. (I recently watched a rare first edition of this book quickly slip away at auction for $850.) 

Abecedario de Munari, 1942

Today, I am pleased to announce the official June 23rd release of the long-awaited title, Munari's Books, from Princeton Architectural Press. This definitive guide—available here and at other favorite retailers—is the first English-language monograph celebrating the book work and achievements of this visionary designer. Author and art historian Giorgio Maffei has catalogued over one hundred and fifty of Munari's books in chronological order beginning with his first—a 1929 children's book. According to Maffei, "Munari considered the book the best medium to communicate his visual ideas, showcase his art, and convey his creative spirit." Umberto Eco once said Munari "worked on the page as if tuning up a fiddle." A fit portrayal, as he was one of the great pioneers of 20th century book design. He designed and illustrated books for learning and lifting the human spirit. He experimented with materials and structures, and was not afraid to apply an element of surprise and wit to every page. Decades before the term artist books was coined, he produced a number of complex structures and wordless books. He also became concerned with every aspect of a book's production, going so far as writing instructions to the publisher for the book's display. Bruno Munari would have been mighty pleased with this fine production. 

Bruno Munari’s ABC_02
Image credit: Mantua: Graziano Peruffo, 1960

La favola delle favole
Image credit: Mantua: Maurizio Corraini Editore, 1994

Supplemento al dizionario italiano
Image credit: Milan: Muggiani editore, 1963

  Munari’s Books by Giorgio Maffei, published by Princeton Architectural Press (2015)


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