REFLECTIONS ON BOOK DESIGN IN BORIS VIPPER'S COLLECTED ESSAYS 'MAKSLAS LIKTENI UN VERTIBAS' ('ARTS FORTUNES AND VALUES') (Gramatu grafikas skatijums Borisa Vipera eseju krajuma 'Makslas likteni un vertibas')
The Russian art historian Boris Vipper (Boriss Vipers, 1888-1967) lived in Latvia from 1924 to 1941 when he worked as a lecturer at the University of Latvia and the Latvian Academy of Art. He made a lasting contribution also to the study of Latvian art and continued his earlier initiatives in art theory. Most of his theoretical work, including that on book design, was written during the 1930s and published in the essay collection 'Makslas likteni un vertibas' ('Art's Fortunes and Values') in 1940. This book is distinguished by a thorough analysis, unprecedented in Latvian context, of several kinds, sub-kinds and genres of art, including the particular problems of book design. Boris Vipper wrote these essays in the maturity of his professional biography. Initially he was greatly influenced by the work of his father, the noted historian Robert Vipper. His education at the History and Philology Department of the Moscow University (1906-1911) and practical historical research in various fields of art, including graphics, was also of particular importance. He was also much interested in theoretical explanations of contemporary art and different methodological paradigms (Adolf von Hildebrandt, Alois Riegl, Heinrich Wolfflin, Vladimir Favorsky etc.).Vipper's small essay in 'Makslas likteni un vertibas' is the only significant text in Latvian art theory that deals with graphic art and its subcategory - book design. The essay displays observations of an academic art historian who highly appreciated classical values but was more reserved towards modernist trends. The substance of book design, according to Vipper, was style as an artistic form, emphasizing the correspondence between depiction's formal features and the particular printed work. The essay explores various aspects of conformity between picture and text, praising the suggestive interpretation of reality, using the symbolic tension between lines and areas. The unity of separate pages in an illustrated book is also reflected upon.
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