The periodical Arts et Métiers Graphiques was published in Paris from 1927 until 1938. There were 68 issues, the 69th being in preparation when war broke out. Charles Peignot, director of the Deberny & Peignot typefoundry, was the driving force behind Arts et Métiers , together with his group of confrères, among whom Maximilien Vox, designer, typographer and publicist, exerted considerable influence.
Arts et Métiers paid attention to French book illustrations and the book trade, satisfying the dominant interests of French bibliophiles. It offered articles on historical aspects of typographic and printing history, as well as informative pieces on contemporary developments in offset printing. It offered articles on historical aspects of typographic and printing history, as well as informative pieces on contemporary developments in offset printing. It gave high profile to the prominent French poster designers of the Alliance Graphique, notably AM Cassandre, Jean Carlu and Charles Loupot. Later coverage spread to include the expanding field of advertising and publicity. Attempts were made to disseminate new ideas from abroad by publishing work by Jan Tschichold, Piet Zwart, McKnight Kauffer, Lester Beall, Herbert Matter, and Herbert Bayer.
Arts et Métiers appeared as a fully realised, mature periodical with high production values. The format and content structure was established in the first issue and adhered to throughout publication. Arts et Métiers was continually enlivened by graceful page layouts, marvellous hors-textes, and sections of experimental typography, mostly uncredited although some can be ascribed to Alexei Brodovitch and Herbert Matter. Cassandre contributed cover designs.
The paper of which this is the abstract examines the nature of Arts et Métiers . I offer a review of background, coverage, page layout and critical evaluation of editorial policy. I shall suggest that although Arts et Métiers might have been expected to promote the interests of the Deberny & Peignot typefoundry, its editorial policy did not promote pragmatic trade interests. I show that Arts et Métiers firmly rejected the form of Morisonian historicism found in Monotype’s house journal, the Monotype Recorder. Rather, Arts et Métiers ’ achievement was in its effort to understand the new form of modernism emerging outside the range of formally recognised aesthetic means, in techniques which have since come to dominate communication: high-quality printing, advertising, photography, film and animation. Arts et Métiers consistently showcased pioneering work in these new fields.
Ruari McLean considered Arts et Métiers Graphiques to be ‘far and away the most entertaining and visually satisfying graphic arts magazine ever published… it was visually alert, enquiring, amusing, open-minded.’ My interest in Arts et Métiers was inspired by McLean’s comment, and my paper aims to discover why Arts et Métiers , about which relatively little is known in this country, should draw such an accolade from an eminent British typographer.
• The full text of this paper is available from the author. Please contact St Bride Printing Library for an email address.
Ann Pillar has worked in the design industry and for the Monotype Corporation. She now teaches typography at Reading University