Modernism transformed American graphic design in the mid-twentieth century and established a visual language that still carries tremendous authority. The Moderns: Midcentury American Graphic Design by Steven Heller and Greg D’Onofrio (Abrams Books, 2017) is the first comprehensive survey of this phenomenon that shaped our visual environment, presenting the work and lives of sixty-three graphic designers. Some were émigrés (including five Bauhaus students and faculty) who brought the gospel of Modernism to America from its sources in Europe. Others were homegrown talents who encountered Modernism in schools and offices at home and abroad. Together, they formed a multigenerational community, learning from one another and forging their individual practices through rigorous engagement with the esthetics of the movement.


As a fan of what is frequently labelled ‘mid-century modern’, I’ve hoped for years for a book that would do the graphic design of the era justice and really scratch below the surface. Luckily, The Moderns absolutely doesn’t disappoint.
– Theo Inglis, Creative Review


  • Publication Date: Sept. 19, 2017
  • Hardcover Size: 9 1⁄2 x 11 1⁄2
  • Page Count: 336
  • Illustrations: 785
  • Publisher: Abrams Books
  • ISBN: 1-4197-2401-0
  • List Price: $55

The Moderns focuses on the principals and disciples who brought Modernist graphic design to the United States as well as acolytes who continued the legacy in the design capitals of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles from around 1937 with the founding of the New Bauhaus to 1970, the height of the International Typographic Style. Our aim is to highlight a curated group that, like Modernism itself, had varying viewpoints and methods yet was bound by governing principles of function, clarity, and simplicity held together through geometry, abstraction, and minimalism. Some of these designers are well-known, others are honored in this volume for the first time, and together they comprised a movement that changed our design world.

ÉMIGRÉS (18)

  • Josef Albers
  • Walter Allner
  • Herbert Bayer
  • Alexey Brodovitch
  • Will Burtin
  • George Giusti
  • György Kepes
  • Leo Lionni
  • Herbert Matter
  • Erik Nitsche
  • M. Peter Piening
  • Cipe Pineles
  • Ladislav Sutnar
  • Fred Troller
  • George Tscherny
  • Massimo Vignelli
  • Dietmar R. Winkler
  • Rudi Wolff

HOMEGROWN (45)

  • Saul Bass
  • Lillian Bassman
  • Lester Beall
  • Peter Bradford
  • Robert Brownjohn
  • Jacqueline S. Casey
  • Chermayeff & Geismar
  • John and Mary Condon
  • Donald and Ann Crews
  • Richard Danne
  • Louis Danziger
  • Rudolph de Harak
  • Louis Dorfsman
  • Ray Eames
  • Gene Federico
  • S. Neil Fujita
  • William Golden
  • Morton Goldsholl
  • Charles Goslin
  • Irving Harper
  • E. McKnight Kauffer
  • Ray Komai
  • Burton Kramer

 

  • Roy Kuhlman
  • Matthew Leibowitz
  • George Lois
  • Herb Lubalin
  • Alvin Lustig
  • Elaine Lustig Cohen
  • John Massey
  • Tomoko Miho
  • Reid Miles
  • Charles E. Murphy
  • Georg Olden
  • Tony Palladino
  • Paul Rand
  • Alexander Ross
  • Arnold Saks
  • Arnold Shaw
  • Louis Silverstein
  • Barbara Stauffacher Solomon
  • Alex Steinweiss
  • Deborah Sussman
  • Bradbury Thompson
  • Lance Wyman

Editors’ Pick for the Best Art and Photography Books of 2017
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Steven Heller and Greg D’Onofrio on Six Modernist Works that Impacted the World of Design
It’s Nice That


Making the Moderns: Midcentury American Graphic Design
Creative Review


Heller and D’Onofrio On the Eclectic Modernists Who Defined an Era
Typeroom

I TRIED TO EVOLVE FORMS THAT IN FEELING COVERED THE ENTIRE EMOTIONAL SPECTRUM, AND ALSO WERE IMPECCABLE IN THEIR SENSE OF ORDER. THIS TO ME WAS MODERNISM, AND TOWARD THAT END I WANTED TO CREATE CONSTELLATIONS SO RICH THAT THEY IN THEMSELVES WOULD COMMUNICATE CONTENT.

—Rudolph de Harak

Through writing, lecturing and collecting, the authors of The Moderns bring a unique perspective to midcentury modern graphic design history. For press inquiries and other questions, please contact us.

STEVEN HELLER, co-chair of the School of Visual Arts MFA Design: Designer As Author + Entrepreneur program, is the author/editor of more than 170 books on design, illustration, and popular visual culture, including Graphic Style (with Seymour Chwast, published by Abrams). He writes the Daily Heller blog for Print magazine and is the recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award for Design Mind.
GREG D’ONOFRIO is a designer, educator, and co-founder of Kind Company and Display, Graphic Design Collection. Greg has curated, lectured, and authored essays on twentieth-century American, Italian and Swiss modern graphic design history. He teaches the history of graphic design at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.