Jenny Lelkes is an Assistant Academic Support Librarian at the London College of Fashion; with responsibility for the College’s Special Collections. She has a BA (Hons) in Art History from the University of Sussex and an MA in Library and Information Studies from University College London. She is interested in the history of design and the processes involved in making art objects, with a particular focus on the history of book design.
Wastepaper masterpieces: Dust jacket design at the Hogarth Press
The presentation examines the dust jacket as an medium through which the printed book can function as a fully autonomous artwork.
The Hogarth Press, the private press established by Virginia and Leonard Woolf in 1917, was often noted and derided for the eye-catching and unconventional dust jacket designs it commissioned. This presentation, however, will explore how both the Press’ pictorial and typographical dust jackets engaged with different artistic theories and social hegemonies to elevate the aesthetic properties of the medium of the book.
I will briefly chart the history of the dust jacket from its humble origins as a protective covering to its eventual development into a sophisticated advertising tool. In addition I will consider how this device can contribute towards the aesthetic properties of the book by discussing it in terms of functional beauty, as a visual act of translation, and an embodiment of modernist marketing practices.
Using the Hogarth Press as a case study, this presentation will contextualise its interest and involvement in book aesthetic, and how its experiments with colourful binding materials between 1917 and 1922 fed directly into their dust jacket designs.
I will go on to discuss examples of pictorial and typographical dust jackets the Hogarth Press commissioned and produced between 1922 and 1946. Whilst some of the Press’ celebrity designers will be discussed, lesser known designers or anonymously designed dust jackets will also be introduced to show the aesthetic diversity of the Press.