Event—Chicago Studies

Michael Golec, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Bruce Rogers, Modern Design, and Chicago's Caxton Club


Bruce Rogers, Modern Design, and Chicago's Caxton Club

In 1925, the Publications Committee of Chicago's Caxton Club commissioned Bruce Rogers to design Ancient Books and Modern Discoveries (1927), a monograph on the history of the book by Frederic G. Kenyon, director and principle librarian of the British Library. Written exclusively for the club and available only to Caxtonians through subscription, the committee judged Rogers' design the "most important book" issued by the club to date. In challenging the revivalist tendencies in American book design in the early twentieth-century, Rogers' handling of typography and layout exceeded the antiquarian tastes of the bibliographic community in Chicago. In this paper, I will posit two questions that both relate to modern design and Caxton Club's special edition of Ancient Books and Modern Discoveries. What becomes of typography on the page, once its practices are liberated from the printing press? And, what was the use of modern design for a group of local bibliophiles in a Midwestern modern mecca?

Respondent: Jonathan Mekinda, University of Illinois at Chicago

The Chicago: City of Commerce and Design, 1890-1990 Seminar is part of Art Design Chicago, an exploration of Chicago’s art and design legacy, an initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art with presenting partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.