People who judge a book by its cover would be impressed with the work of Alvin Lustig (1915-1955), who designed book jackets for notable works such as F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1945), D. H. Lawrence's The Man Who Died (1947), and Tennessee William's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955).
Authors Ned Drew and Paul Sternberger reflect on Lustig's fascinating life as a modernist designer in their new book, Purity of Aim: The Book Jacket Designs of Alvin Lustig, published by the Cary Graphic Arts Press at Rochester Institute of Technology.
According to Sternberger, associate professor of art history at Rutgers University-Newark: "Alvin Lustig lived design. The depth and breadth of his experimentation in book cover design is testimony to his desire to take design to new heights, to change not just the world of design, but the world itself."
Purity of Aim is the fourth book in the Cary Graphic Design Archive Chapbook Series-a colorful and well-researched representation of Lustig's book cover designs that were created primarily for New Directions Books and Noonday Press, among others.
The book also focuses on Lustig's artistry in creating bold graphic designs for book covers, enhanced by a lifelong collaboration with James Laughlin, founder and publisher of New Directions Books. In conjunction, the authors cite many passages from these letters of correspondence between Lustig and Laughlin from the early 1940s until Lustig's untimely death at age 40 in 1955.
Drew, who teaches at Rutgers University-Newark, says as a designer and educator, he was "amazed by how Alvin Lustig's work offers invaluable lessons about the past, while at the same time inspiring today's designer with concrete examples of rigorous and innovative problem-solving."