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Book Review: Dard Hunter, The Graphic Works

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Feb 17, 2012 01:05 AM
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by Eric last modified Feb 16, 2012

Elbert Hubbard and the Roycrofters are familiar subjects for many American Arts & Crafts enthusiasts. The various printed items, metal pieces, furniture, tooled leather objects and other handicrafts produced at the East Aurora, New York artistic enclave have been the subject of a host of books, exhibits and studies over the years. Yet, one area that has received scant attention is the topic of graphic design and the important role it played making the Roycroft...




 

 

Screen shot 2012-02-16 at 9.07.01 AMElbert Hubbard and the Roycrofters are familiar subjects for many American Arts & Crafts enthusiasts. The various printed items, metal pieces, furniture, tooled leather objects and other handicrafts produced at the East Aurora, New York artistic enclave have been the subject of a host of books, exhibits and studies over the years. Yet, one area that has received scant attention is the topic of graphic design and the important role it played making the Roycroft experiment a success. A new book by Lawrence Kreisman and published by Pomegranate titled Dard Hunter: The Graphic Works seeks to shine a spotlight on the life and work of the finest graphic designer to come out of the Roycrofters. More after the jump...

At twenty-one years of age, William Joseph “Dard” Hunter (1883–1966) joined Elbert Hubbard's unique artistic community in East Aurora and brought a breath of fresh air to the Roycrofter's endeavors. Calling upon his early experience working with printing presses, a natural sense of typography, composition, and drawing skills, Dard soon shifted the graphic sensibilities of Roycroft design away from aping the tangled floral fantasies borrowed from William Morris's books toward a new, bold, and distinctively modern path.

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Of particular interest, Kreisman's book explores the impact that contemporary European design trends had on the young designer, especially the conventionalized, colorful and geometric motifs found in the work of the Viennese Secessionists. The checkered confetti squares, the bold color schemes, the stylized flowers, the lyrical lines—these German/Austrian influences were fertile ground for the imagination of Dard and the book's 120 color reproductions help showcase these connections.

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Kreisman's text is both engaging and informative without rehashing too much of what's already been covered in numerous other Arts & Crafts texts—and thanks to the collaborative help of Dard Hunter III (the designer's grandson), the book contains information that is both unique and personal. The illustrations of over eighty Dard Hunter designs for book covers, title pages, booklets, bookplates, brochures, letterheads, and stained glass windows are obviously the juiciest part of the book and useful to have collected into one source.

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If you are as big a fan of early American progressive design as I am, then you will eat this book up from cover to cover. I highly recommend this book as the perfect gift for the graphic arts lover on your list--even if it's you! For more details on the book and to order your copy, follow the link.

Images courtesy of Pomegranate



 

 

 
 
 

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