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YUGOSLAV BOOK DESIGN: Potovanja po Tihem oceanu. [Travels in the Pacific Ocean].



8°. 333 pp., [2] original card boards with illustrated cover, blue cloth spine with lettering, original illustrated dustjacket (light foxing, minor wear, binding with minor damage to the cover and slightly bumped corners, dustjacket with small tears in margins and two tiny holes, spine of the dustjacket slightly age-toned).


This is a diary and travelogue of voyages in the Pacific Ocean by the Russian explorer Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay (1846–1888), illustrated by a highly decorative mid-century dustjacket. The cover of the blue boards is adorned with a corresponding mask. These motifs were highly popular during the 1950s.

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, 19481980.

The book was issued as part of the series Globus, which featured travelogues, diaries and biographies of famous surveyors.

References: OCLC 439770648.

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