After World War II, the number of illustrated art books on the market rose rapidly. Following technological improvements and greater availability of photographic reproductions of artworks, publishers and art historians experienced more freedom and possibilities to visualize concepts. Art books played a central role as go-between in conveying the author’s meaning to the reader. Several cases in this research (e.g. André Malraux’s “musée imaginaire,” 1947) exemplify how a large number of images could be grouped, cropped and manipulated and combined with bodies of text, resulting in parallel visual narratives and even new perspectives on the history of art.
This PhD project studies illustrated art books published between 1945 and 1985. Through formal analysis and archival research of exemplary cases (a selection of publishers and imprints), and through the study of theoretical perspectives, this research aims to contribute to a subject that has received little scholarly attention so far. By looking into how these artistic ideas were visualized (image, typography, layout) and influenced views on art, this research offers new contributions to academic discourse of mechanical reproduction, art book publishing, art historiography and visual studies.