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The surrealistic book covers of Heinz Edelmann
All images from The Book of Books, by Heinz Edelmann. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1997.
February 25, 2013

The surrealistic book covers of Heinz Edelmann

By: zacharysachs

Klett-Cotta, founded in 1659, is a Stuttgart-based publisher specializing in literature, fantasy, history, politics, philosophy, and psychology — a range that could not be better suited to Heinz Edelmann, who maintained a long relationship as a designer of their book jackets. In 1997, they celebrated their partnership by putting out a small flipbook style retrospective, with choppy layouts including his covers along with incidental illustrations.

Small black flipbook on a table; cover contaisn vertical strips of white paper with black text printed on it in different fonts.

 

Michael Klett, in the introduction, stresses that Edelmann says

Typograpy means “thinking an image.” Only in this way the letters can be brought into sufficient tension with pictorial elements and at the same time into harmony.

And then he argues that

During the last years, one might notice in book design a revival of certain mushy delights, of a vehemently harmless cosiness. To this Edelmann opposes his tough, nervy, demanding style.

Edelmann, in his notes in the back, responds with characteristic humility:

This selection attempts to document the noble (1976-1996) experiment of basing the corporate identity of a major (fiction and non-fiction) programme on the stylistic idiosyncrasies and vagaries of one single errant designer: it is a tribute to the publisher’s courage rather than a resurrection of dated personal favourites or a demonstration of (dubious) stylistic or technical options.

The reader is encouraged to judge for himself how “dubious” (quotes from Edelmann’s notes):

Flipbook opened to show a spread depicting colorful block text and a building

 

Flipbook opened to show a spread depicting two propaganda posters, left with a rack of brown coats against a blue background and right  with a razor and a depiction of Hitler's mustache

 

Flipbook opened to show a spread depicting two posters, left with an upside-down men's suit and right with a loaf of bread against a black and white background

 

Flipbook opened to show a spread depicting two posters, left with two headless men, right with two forks

 

Flipbook opened to show a spread depicting two posters, left with a man's head against a grid chart, right with a closeup of a woman's hands

 

Flipbook opened to show a spread depicting two black and white illustrated posters, left with a man carrying a bundle of sticks on his back and right with a man carrying two bags

 

Flipbook opened to show a spread depicting a German soldier carrying posters

 

Flipbook opened to show a spread depicting a black and white illustration of four teapots on a tray

 

The above two spreads, collage and grease-pencil in which “Rats endanger London on the slip-case and cover and in the title sequence of Rattus Rex” remind me of the work of William Kentridge.

Flipbook opened to show a spread depicting two blue posters, left with text and a bell, right with a man surrounded by fish

 

Flipbook opened to show a spread  containing a fish in a table against a white background

 

Color poster showing a woman's face repeated three times and obscured by white blocks; black text is below in a column

 

For reference, the average Klett-Cotta original is 215 × 135 mm (approx. 8.5 × 5.3 in.) and the artwork actual size or 1.2:1. More from an earlier volume here and from this one, on our Flickr page.