Yesterday you met Scott and Ping and, as promised, today I want to show you their extraordinary book, Chinese Graphic Design in The Twentieth Century.
In the words of their publisher, Thames & Hudson:
“An astonishing collection of graphics, uncovered from long- forgotten sources, mostly in China, featuring 150 color and 135 black-and-white photographs and illustrations.
From posters and advertisements to book covers and magazines, this book presents a dazzling panoply of modern graphic design in China.
Beginning with the basic traditions of Chinese graphics, the authors show how the writer and artist Lu Xun became the center of cultural revival in the new China.
We see 1920s style Art Deco coming to China in the Shanghai Style, and the birth of a dynamic national design style, born of 1930s Russian Constructivism and China’s own drive for new technology.
The 1950s -1960s Socialist Realist art of Mao in turn adopted folk art traditions to fuel the Revolutionary machine, while the continuing search for a new identity can be seen in the graphic images of protest from the summer of 1989.”
As you may have rightly assumed by a glimpse into their apartment and our dinner, their aesthetic sensibilities are exceptional without being artificially “precious.” Their design principles are pure and well thought-out, while at the same time comfortable and soothing.
When I first discovered their book, long after we met, I mentioned it to my brother-in-law, Paul Jett, who was until recently Head of Conservation and Scientific Research for the Freer and Sackler Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and another American friend whose father was a curator at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Both of them owned the book.
One of my absolute favorite experiences in life is small world stories.