Before dust jackets wrapped every hardcover behind a shield of paper, a book's binding was its only advertisement, and the shelves of bibliophiles were lined with staid leather-bound tomes. Then came the Art Deco designs of Pierre Legrain and Rose Adler, who transformed bookbinding into a medium of playful and dazzling experimentation and craftsmanship. Their colorful, imaginative works, often made in exotic materials, are found only in a few prized collections and have rarely been available to the general public. now, this selection of more than sixty designs, colored-paper maquettes, and realized bindings are collected in one exquisite volume, with insightful texts introducing the work and discuss its revolutionary effect on modern design.
Among the brilliant array of bindings are ones made especially for works by Colette, Paul Verlaine, Andre Gide, Guillaume Apollinaire, Stephane Mallarme, Michel Leiris, and Jean Giraudoux.
Art Deco Bookbinding accompanies the exhibition of the same name at the New York Public Library's Humanities and Social Science Library beginning in February 2004.