The fascinating history of visual culture in Slovakia between the wars is presented in the book Modernity of Tradition.
When I was a graphic design student in Czechoslovakia in the early 1990s, graphic design (or ‘applied graphic arts’, as it was called in those days) was a young profession in a young country. We were taught little about the history of graphic design in our own country, and in particular about design in the years before the communist era. Nor, after the collapse of communism, were works of that regime considered worthy of study. When the Czech and Slovak Republics separated in 1993, Slovakia was the poorer and less cultured half, and while better known Czech designers such as Ladislav Sutnar and Karel Teige were the subjects of several well-deserved monographs, there was nothing concerning the leading figures of Slovak design and typography.
Now nearly 20 years later we are discovering that Slovakia has a fascinating history of visual culture. For the past decade, Professor Ľubomír Longauer, who was my teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava, has devoted himself to research in this area. He has collected over 6000 artefacts which will likely be part of a future design museum in Slovakia, one that is sorely missing, to increase awareness of the role and power of design.
This monumental research has culminated in the first of several planned books. Modernity of Tradition uncovers the largely forgotten history of graphic design in Slovakia after 1918. The never before published images reveal a surprising history of graphic design in Central Europe in the context of wider European connections. Enjoy some of the illustrations below.
Antonín Škoda, architectural segmentation of areas, 1927
František Kabarec, Annual Report for Vocational School of Graphic Design, 1927
Karol Labuda, excercise in the layout of elements, 1927
Vladimír Bartošek, Typographia magazine supplement, 1930
Martin Benka, ornamental typeface, 1956
Martin Benka, ornamental typeface, 1940s
Jozef Vlček, magazine advertisement, 1937
Štefan Bednár, illustrated newspaper headings, 1934
Štefan Bednár, book cover, 1942
Rudolf Fabry, book cover, 1938