Monday, 11 August 2008

Some Follow-Ups

Just a couple of follow-ups. The first is to my post about Tamara de Lempicka's paintings being used on the front of certain fascist screeds: well, here's another, forthcoming in Penguin Modern Classics.



Secondly, the more I think about the Barnaby Hall covers showcased in the last post, the more I think that the majority of his Vintage US covers are served badly by the way the Hall photo is made such a relatively small part of the cover. Compare the originals with these variations I quickly knocked up.

Originals:




Quickie alternatives:






What do you think?

UPDATE: Barnaby Hall himself has commented on this post with some very interesting information, and a link to a fascinating online exhibition of book cover design--for more details, see here.

13 comments:

Levi Stahl said...

Interesting: your covers look decidedly more English to me--something about English book design's willingness to trust the image to bleed and not need a structure around it. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't.

I think these all four work, though it's hard for me to separate how much of that is due to their own qualities and how much is due to the originals being dated.

Max Cairnduff said...

Vastly better in your version in my view, but I'm British so Levi's comment may apply to me too.

unstable molecule said...

Your versions are definitely superior. But I'm English as well!

I don't know much about Ayn Rand, although on certain forums I have encountered people that seem to follow her thought... seems like she is the darling of American republicans. No thanks!

Levi Stahl said...

I hope I didn't sound harsh in my assessment; I didn't mean to. Your versions are definitely better--it's just hard for me to assess them objectively because the others (the Chandler in particular) just look so out of place in today's design environment that it fuddles me.

Leslie said...

Yours are better! I'm an American with no design training. Does it still count?

john self said...

Still very 80s though - not your fault, just those horrible soft-focus photographs. Like an ad for cologne in a gent's magazine of the time.

Kylie said...

I much prefer your covers as well, although I'm not a big fan of those pics anyway. The originals are just awful, in my opinion.

JRSM said...

Thanks all for your comments. I think it is true that the originals do look very American in style. Certainly I think it's generally true that UK paperbacks are much better than US paperbacks in design terms, but that a really well done US hardcover is often a thing of beauty (whereas UK hardbacks can be a bit ho-hum). That's a gross generalisation, but I think it's mostly true. And no offence taken, Levi--I think you're exactly right. Those Chandlers look like something from 1979.

Max Cairnduff said...

Lempicka's art is peculiarly well suited to illustrating books with fascist or extreme right themes, I really can't think of anyone better suited. There's a slightly glossy inhumanity to it all, a world sculpted by Bugatti.

I rather regret missing the Lempicka exhibition held in London a year or two, I'm not sure what it would be like to see wall after wall of her work.

JRSM said...

'Glossy inhumanity' is a very apt description: skin in her paintings is like highly varnished wood or porcelain. And I would be very interested in seeing an exhibition of her work--the trouble with Australia is that the major exhibitions which do make it down here often only visit one or two of the major cities, leaving those of us who don't live there looking at travelling a couple of thousand kilometres to spend an hour or two in a gallery.

Anonymous said...

well well well - how refreshing to see a blog - both positive and negative, regarding these old jacket photos of mine! The graduate one has been used SO many times that it's a joke . However it was originally shot (very quickly I might add) for a rather crappy VIDEO cover.
It is interesting to see how much out dated design affects judgement of pictures which although admittedly "from the early 90's"
(sorry about that !) still retain a little merit - at least the books were read and an attempt was made to shoot something that had a little thought and some relevance to the book. Hey ho. I'm currently making a series of prints of some of the covers - WITHOUT the design. To exhibit - here and there.
Try:
luminous-lint.com
Whatever - I'd be happy to fill in gaps or enlighten with regard to book jackets that I MAY know something about.

barnaby said...

Shit- I didn't mean to be "Anonymous". I mean..... that would be both silly - and cowardly !

JRSM said...

Hello, Barnaby, and thanks for all that information! I hope you didn't mind my messing with your images.

That exhibition is very interesting. I'll update this post to link to it, and to include your comments. Thanks for letting me know all of that--it's very useful and, frankly, fun to hear from the people who do the actual work in making books things of beauty.