Welcome to the DigiBooks Library, a repository for historical publications and portfolios that have been included in recent exhibitions at The Wolfsonian–FIU. Feel free to explore these DigiBooks and delve into such subjects as Art Deco, industrial design, architecture, classic poetry, science, historical propaganda, and more!
Click on the cards to access any of the DigiBooks
This copy, purchased by Wolfsonian founder Mitchell “Micky” Wolfson, Jr., as a young boy while traveling with his family in Paris, features illustrations by French artist Gustave Doré. Doré’s gothic and melodramatic style was well-suited to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s romantic tale, despite the poem having been originally published nearly 100 years before this version was produced. The poem marks the beginning of British Romantic literature.
The Société des Artistes Décorateurs—an organization established in 1901 to advance the decorative arts in France—exhibited a suite of interiors entitled Une ambassade française at the 1925 Paris Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes. In this portfolio published to commemorate the installation, interiors are shown as pochoir [hand-stenciled] renderings, followed by a documentary photograph of the completed room.
Intending to inspire modern artists and designers, Emile-Allain Séguy juxtaposed scientifically precise renderings of butterflies and abstracted patterns based on their forms. As with the companion portfolio Insectes, Séguy described butterflies as merveilleuses mécaniques [marvelous mechanisms] worthy of the same admiration as a locomotive, ocean liner, or airplane.
Mexican painter Miguel Covarrubias’ (1904–1957) Negro Drawings is an early work by the self-taught artist, produced following his move to New York in 1923. Best known for his caricatures for New York publications and his anthropological and archeological work in Mexico, Covarrubias was also active in the Harlem Renaissance and Negro Drawings features his observations of dance halls, night clubs, and daily life.
Published after the 1925 Paris Exposition, this portfolio shows how modernist trends were diffused throughout the decorative arts in France, in fields such as advertising graphics, textiles, wallpaper, book design, and others. Among the well-known artists and designers featured in the portfolio are Jean Carlu, Sonia Delaunay, Man Ray, and Raoul Dufy.
Albert Lévy’s goal in publishing the five portfolios of the Répertoire du goût moderne was to “provide logical, practical, creative solutions to the problems raised by the organization, furnishing, and decoration of an apartment.” By presenting original ideas and fresh alternatives for the domestic interior, Lévy believed that he could create greater accessibility to good design as well as expand the definition of modern taste. These pochoir drawings make up volume 2 in the portfolio series.
Multidisciplinary artist Vilmos Huszár, founding member of the Dutch avant-garde movement De Stijl and designer of the first cover of their eponymous magazine, started to produce graphic work for the Bruynzeel wood company in the 1920s. In this promotional album he successfully combines photography, typography, and the use of graphic design as a layout to the history of the factory narrated by its founder Cornelis Bruynzeel, Sr.
This manuscript by Lin Shi Khan and Ralph Austin uses images to narrate the case of the “Scottsboro boys”—nine Black youths falsely accused of rape in 1931 Alabama—placing it in a longer arc of history. Beginning with the kidnapping, transportation, and selling of Africans into slavery, it ends with the Communist Party leading workers of all races in a revolution against capitalist exploitation.
Graphic and industrial designer Piet Zwart created this book to introduce school children to the Dutch postal, telegraph, and telephone services. Strongly influenced by the De Stijl movement, Zwart also refers to Dada and Russian Constructivism in this ingenious volume which merges varying, asymmetrical types with graphic illustrations and pictures of color and black and white pictures.
Inspired by Henry Ford’s Model T, the German Nazi regime aimed to produce an affordable car for the German masses. The Volkswagen, which translates to “people’s car,” was designed for free time and leisure, everyday luxuries that the Nazis promised to make available to the working class. This booklet illustrates not only the component parts of the car but also how the ideal German family might use the vehicle for recreation.
An early consulting designer in the United States, Harold Van Doren wrote Industrial Design, A Practical Guide as a pragmatic how-to instructional for designers interested in pursuing a career in the field. In it, he championed the principle of streamlining, arguing that it was an approach to design that “no designer can ignore and no modern book on design can afford to not discuss.”
Following the overthrow of President Fulgencio Batista in 1959 by Fidel Castro and his allies, graphic artist and magazine design director Conrado Massaguer published this book [Am I going well Camilo?] providing the first caricatures of the revolutionaries. Many of the included advertisements depict famous Cuban figures enjoying American brands like Coca-Cola, Buick, and Jell-O—soon to become off-limits in Cuba after Castro cut ties with the United States.