The book publishing industry may be shifting tectonically and perhaps irrevocably as we speak, but, as with vinyl, the cover endures as a canonical canvas for graphic design. The follow-worthy Casual Optimist recently brought a series of Gunter Rambow's amazing book-centric posters to our attention. Designed for the S. Fischer Verlag publishing house in the 70's, these graphics exemplify the light touch required to pull off visual self-reference. These book posters tread between clean forms and surrealist art, walking the delicate line of sight gags without crossing into the crap zone.
Magritte would be proud...
It should go without saying that Rambow created these works of art before the advent of Photoshop and its epiphenomenal 'bombardment,' though it's worth noting that the clever visual puns still hold up today.
...as would M.C. Escher.
Rambow was born in 1938 in the postwar communist German Democratic Republic, though he moved west before the construction of the Wall and started his own own studio while still taking classes in graphic art and design. With that in mind, his work (like his life) has often been openly critical and political. Whether in film posters or ad campaigns, he's carried that bluntness without losing visual impact or whimsy. Asked in a rare interview in 1997, "How far to the left do you stand these days?" Rambow responded, "I still stand on my own two feet."
These are not books, don't be fooled.
Of course, his oeuvre comprises a rich variety of work for many clients over the years, and it's easy to get lost in the veritable trove of Rambow's website.
With additional reporting by Ray Hu