The Weimar Republic was the form of government established in Germany between the two world wars. Named after the city in which its constitution was promulgated in 1919, the Weimar Republic represented a brief yet intense laboratory of democracy, a model of parliamentary government for the whole Europe that only lasted 15 years until Hitler and the National Socialist party rose to power (1933).

The Weimar Republic rose from the ashes of a country dramatically defeated in WWI, driven by a strong desire of resurgence and transformation that didn’t led to stability but was characterised by social and political agitation, revolutionary turmoil, and a deep economic crisis.

In cultural terms, this political and social environment led to an exceptionally creative season both in the artistic and the scientific field. Berlin was the centre of a cultural revolution that tried and found new paths that sometimes anticipated what was to come in the future and, although far in time, still appear modern and meaningful today, not least for the interpretation and representation of our reality.

Berlin was the epicentre of book production and the experimentation of avant-garde art movements. Bookshops and publishing houses began to sprout in the city creating a new publishing market. Publishers in the 1920s experimented a new contemporary design for book covers and jackets, one that could catch the readers’ attention and therefore lead to commercial success and at the same time define the graphic identity of the publishing house (ideas that may sound familiar to us today but were completely new at the time).

Publishers entrusted the cover design of their books to artists that could best express the spirit of the time. Modern designers tried out new languages that drew fully from the contamination with avant-garde art movements, especially Expressionism, Constructivism, Dadaism, and Bauhaus. The cover design process became intertwined with other art forms, and many designers, for example, chose to experiment with photography and photomontage (a procedure that required laborious manual work at the time).

The resulting imaginative and innovative covers sparked people’s curiosity, but sometimes they were also definitely surprising and aggressive for the time and introduced new aesthetic canons that still look fresh and up-to-date today.

The rise to power of the National Socialist party in 1933 marked the end of the Weimar Republic and the ban of the avant-garde art movements as well as of a culture that produced such a prolific circulation of ideas, creativity, and masterpieces, creating aesthetic and formal standards that are still convincing today.

Text by Eleonora Boscolo Caporale

In collaboration with #logosedizioni.
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