This is a Slovenian translation of Ivo Andrić’s Nobel Prize-winning novel Na Drini ćuprija, featuring a lovely cover design by the Slovenian architect Uroš Vagaja, published two years before Andrić received the award in Stockholm in 1961.
The striking, colourful image on the dustjacket, represents the protagonist of the novel – the stone bridge with its reflection on the water, composed of only four colours upon a white background.
The image on the cover represents the same structure, but in a simple brown linear form, under the gilt moon, at night, whereupon a large part of the novel took place.
Vagaja is was one of the most prolific and esteemed Yugoslav book designers of the post war period, responsible for illustrating over 100 (and possibly many more) books. Trained as an architect, he was active as a painter, illustrator and stage designer, and during WWII was heavily involved in underground Partisan printing. After the war, Vagaja studied architecture in Prague and Ljubljana, graduating in 1956.
Vagaja’s book designs combine modern lines with flat colourful surfaces, a common motif influenced by the techniques of Partisan underground printing, which succeeded in creating powerful images with scarce resources, such as a limited palate employing linocuts. His narrative dustjackets were positioned in a dialogue with minimalistic covers, usually designed by simple printed and embossed lines, speaking to the heart of the story. One of the key characteristics of Vagaja’s work was his employment of maps as a narrative design, especially in the form of endpapers, where he often used cartography, based on his own drafts. Vagaja was also known as a poster designer, most famous for his draft for a 1952 Cockta poster – theSlovenian-Yugoslav take on Coca-Cola. The poster remains an iconic classic of post war Yugoslav – Slovenian design, even today adorning the walls of countless bars, restaurants, private apartments and offices (including our own!).
MOMA picked up on his work for the exhibition Toward a Concrete Utopia, Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980.
References: OCLC 456481728.