Spring 2018

Rational, exuberant, eclectic

The Moderns: Midcentury American Graphic Design

By Steven Heller and Greg D’Onofrio
Designed by Kind Company
Abrams Books $55, £40

In a section of his final book, Vision in Motion (1947), László Moholy-Nagy describes what can be read today as an early definition of ‘modernist’ graphic design.

He advocates ‘simplicity and forcefulness through the simultaneous organisation of the numerous messages which have to be transmitted to the reader’, highlights the rise of ‘a great number of other visual manipulations, such as superimpositions and photomontage’ increasing ‘the attempts to change typography from typesetting to photo engraving by fusing into a “collage” all the elements, that is, the copy, drawings, photographs, facsimile of documents, scripts, etc.’, along with ‘textures […], cutouts and foldings, […] later added to the printed matter to vitalize the reception range of the eye.’


Cover for The Moderns featuring an advertisement for Container Corporation of America, 1941, designed by Herbert Matter.
Top: Tomoko Miho’s poster 65 Bridges to New York from the series ‘Aspects of New York City’, Center for Advanced Research in Design, 1967, shown in The Moderns.


Sébastien Morlighem, teacher, researcher and writer, Amiens, France

Read the full version in Eye no. 96 vol. 24, 2018


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