Saturday, February 8, 2014
Bruno Munari and the painless paper cuts
Italian Bruno Munari (1906-1998) was one of those rare creative designers who worked in many visual areas (sculpture, painting, toys, books) and produced something fresh in all of them. He created a series of unreadable books, though I prefer the title wordless books and the two below are typical of his work.
The first Munari book is a Quadrat Print from 1953. The Dutch printer steendrukkeri De Jong issued these square format printed items during the fifties and sixties to anyone who wrote in for them (there is another Quadrat Print: Nude alphabet in the Past Print Archive, August 2011). The book is just under ten inches square with thirty-two pages of alternating red and white paper trimmed in various ways. You can turn over parts of each page to create interesting abstract spreads.
The second book is probably the smallest one I have ever bought, too small to be realistically sold that size so the publisher put it in an envelope. Four inches square with thirty-two pages made up of eight colored papers. Maybe it was too small for binding machinery because it is held together with red cord and cleverly there is a notch cut into spine to stop the pages falling out.
The third book is one I created sometime in the sixties and obviously inspired by Munari's Quadrat Print. I used a paper sampler of pastel colors, stapled twenty-five sheets together, cut them to a 6.75 inch square to make a hundred page book, the cover is a thicker white card. The cuts are based on a square divided into mathematical sections and the end result provides some interesting spreads. I haven't included every page in the images below.