The Modernist


2 of 5 stars
What’s this?

I spotted this book about the resurgence and evolution of the modernist aesthetic in graphic design and ordered it immediately. The description sounds like it was written just for me.

“Today’s designers and illustrators are synthesizing the best elements from past eras of graphic design to create a new visual language with a reduced and rational approach. The Modernist documents this uniquely contemporary, yet timeless aesthetic that is built upon the rediscovery and seamless melding of classical type elements and collage of the 1950s, the geometric patterns and graphic elements of the 1960s and 1970s, and the vector graphics and computer-aided montage of the 1990s.”

Not only that, but the cover features a drop-dead gorgeous collage illustration from the incredible Dan Mountford.

The Modernist

The terrific design inspiration blog Grain Edit has some snapshots of the book itself, too. You can read more about the book at the publisher’s site. Or buy it from Amazon and I get a little kickback.



  1. Haven’t read the book, but from what’s available online, calling this “Modernism” doesn’t seem accurate.

    From OSX’s New Oxford American dictionary:

    “a style or movement in the arts that aims to break with classical and traditional forms.”

    The book looks to be loaded with lots of traditional approaches to design. Maybe there are no “Classical” forms but definitely a lot of work reminiscent of what today’s designers would consider “classic” mid-century design.

    This might be a great example of contemporary design practices but it sounds like yet another form of post-modernism and nostalgia. Maybe they should have titled it “The New Modernist” or “The New Post-Modernist”.

    The real Modernists weren’t mimicking what came before them.

  2. Jason: I agree, the name seems inaccurate. I’m not sure ‘post-modernist’ would be a good fit, either. Maybe “The Past-Modernist.” You heard it punned here first.

  3. Ordered this book immediately after seeing this post.

    Modernism as an art movement in the 20th century might have been defined as a break from the classical, but as time as gone on, I think Modernism has embodied a whole lot more than that.

    It’s a (possibly unprecedented) strange situation graphic design and modernism sit in. It could really be argued that graphic design grew out of modernism, and because of that, going back to the roots of design really is a return to modernism.

    To be sure, going back to the roots of design after a post-modernism era would have to be classified as its own movement, though. Post-Post-Modernism? I’m sure a more elegant name will emerge eventually.

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