Thomas Raat, John C. Welchman (essay), Willem Vermasse (photography)

An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth and More..., 2nd ed. - BOOK DESIGN FROM THE 60'S FOR TODAY! BACKLIST ORDER!


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"Thomas Raat’s series of abstract paintings (120 x 180 cm) An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth takes off from the cover designs of popular "egghead" paperbacks published from the late 1940s until the early 70s. The artist’s repurposing of the predominantly abstract imagery of the jackets mediates an abstruse range of synthetic epistemologies (from “freedom and responsibility” to “the law of civilization and decay”) as well as the needs or demands of various book series and the branding orientations of the publishing houses that commissioned them.

The essay by John C. Welchman, featured in the book, discusses how Raat’s work operates at the technical interface between abstract painting and visual construction and on the generic borderlines between art, design and the history of ideas; and how his intervention precipitates a salient crisis in the signifying assumptions delivered to non-figurative compositionality in the mid-twentieth century—and its later reassessments. Prompted by an ethos of design that fronts the inevitability of reading, Raat’s project asks how abstract signs have been organized as the future of a long and stealthy illusion." (publisher's note)

Review:
"Voting on this book was unanimous. To start with, the black cover, with its carefully thought-out  typography – at once controlled and exciting – is both intriguing and convincing. Everything here is right: front, back and narrow spine have all been well handled.
This is continued in the interior, with typography that is good and solid without being in any way coarse, and is in harmony with the work on display. The choice of materials likewise carries conviction, with the matt character of the sturdy, just adequately flexible cover, and the vulnerable interior matter that so beautifully dovetails with it.
This book joins in with two trends that we found turning up again and again: shorter and/or narrower pages carrying a new layer of information, and pages folded in the Japanese manner that in this case appear not to require slitting open, even though there is occasionally text on the inside.
Besides, the rationale for using these two current elements is easy to see. This work by Thomas Raat builds on the mainstream-modernist book covers of half a century ago. The designer seems to have really got inside the work, and the result is a book that has been designed with love and care and is also beautifully printed and bound.
Honourable mention, Best Book Design from all over the World, Leipzig 2013

"Thomas Raats Serie über abstrakte Bilder, 'An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth (dt. Eine Untersuchung über Bedeutung und Wahrheit)' bezieht sich auf Cover-Designs der populären "Egghead"-Paperback-Veröffentlichichungen aus den späten 1940er Jahren bis in die frühen 70er Jahre.
Die künstlerische Umwidmung der überwiegend abstrakten Cover-Bilder vermittelt eine abstruse Reihe von synthetischen Epistemologien (von "Freiheit und Verantwortung" hin zu "das Gesetz der Zivilisation und des Verfalls") der Bedürfnisse oder Anforderungen verschiedener Buchreihen und am Branding orientieruter Verlage, die sie in Auftrag gegeben haben.

Der dem Buch vorgestellte Aufsatz von John C. Welchman diskutiert, wie Raats Arbeit an der technischen Schnittstelle zwischen abstrakter Malerei und visueller Konstruktion operiert sowie an den allgemeinen Grenzen zwischen Kunst, Design und der Ideen-Entwicklung; und wie seine Intervention eine ausgeprägte Krise der Bedeutungen vorwegnimmt in Richtung einer ungegenständlichen Kompositionalität in der Mitte des 20. Jhts. - und seiner späteren Neubewertungen. Angeregt durch die Design-Ethik, die mit der Unvermeidlichkeit des Lesens konfrontiert wird, hinterfragt Raats Projekt, wie sich abstrakte Zeichen als die Zukunft einer langen und verstohlenen Illusion organisiert haben." (publisher's note)