This Print Room exhibition offered a unique opportunity to discover some of the rarest and most valuable books illustrated by artists.
Few visitors are aware of the significant library and archive at Pallant House Gallery. Tucked away on the ground floor, the library has around 19,000 books, that have been vital in providing research for our ever-growing art collection and our internationally-renowned exhibitions.
Undercover: The Art of the Book Jacket was an unprecedented opportunity to see a number of these beautiful books, some of which are too precious or fragile to be on the open shelves. The exhibition focussed on a number of 20th century titles and the artists who contributed illustrations, frontispieces, and book covers to these publications.
It included fine bindings by Modern British artist Paul Nash, a large first edition portfolio The Drawings of Henry Moore, and the complete series of New Excursions into English Poetry, for which Mona Moore, John Piper, Edward Bawden, John Craxton, Michael Ayrton, William Scott and Robert Colquhoun produced lithographs. Other highlights included House of Fear (1988), written and illustrated by the surrealist artist Leonora Carrington and two painted frontispieces, including a self-portrait, by Hans Feibusch.
Also on display were the vibrant early format editions of Ark (The Journal of the Royal College of Art) which were produced between 1950 and 1978 by RCA students. These journals were on display alongside Unit 1: The Modern Movement in English Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1934) edited by Herbert Read. This was the accompanying publication for the only exhibition held by the Modernist group Unit One, which was founded by the Paul Nash in 1933, and included Barbara Hepworth, Edward Burra, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, and, for a short period, Frances Hodgkins. Several of the artists in Unit One were involved in the publication Circle: International Survey of Constructivist Art, which was printed three years later in 1937 – a copy of which will also be exhibited in Undercover: The Art of the Book Jacket.