Book Art Movement

Poster: PAN, 1895
Shop window poster by Joseph Sattler for the bibliophile art magazine PAN, lithograph, 1895
Les maîtres de l'affiche / Wikimedia Commons

Book Art Movement

The book as an entire work of art

A book consists of five elements: these are text, type, colour of the type, paper and cover. To create a unity out of these elements that communicates naturally to the reader, and does not serve fashion trends but rather strives for a timeless value is what we desire to achieve.

Hans Mardersteig, Lexikon des gesamten Buchwesens, 1987

The Book Art Movement was a movement that proceeded mainly from England at the end of the 19th century and lasted until roughly the 1930s. It was concerned with a renewal of book art and its aim was to improve the way books were produced both artistically and technically, and above all to present the book as a unity of text, type, illustration, print, paper and cover. The realisation of this ideal began with the English painter, architect, printer and book designer William Morris with his Kelmscott Press (1891-1898).

The Book Art Movement was supported and funded by publishers, illustrators, type designers, painters and sculptors, architects and writers as well as bibliophile societies, private presses, publishing houses, type foundries and printing workshops. The profession book artist or book designer emerged as the person responsible for the overall production in a publishing house or only for individual works. Important book artist taught at art schools or academies. The Book Art Movement was influenced by the style dictates of the era, first of all by Art Nouveau, then by the New Objectivity of Bauhaus. Their ideas to raise the quality of book production also affected the design of mass and consumer books and initiated book design competitions in many countries.