Sigfried Giedion called Herbert Bayer’s exhibition catalogue for the 1930 Section Allemande a “minor typographical masterpiece.” Like similar catalogues, it is inexpensive, provides an inventory list, has an introduction, functions as a guide, and is illustrated. However, the majority of its images are of installations, not their contents. Bayer accommodates the catalogue type for applied arts exhibitions by listing installations as objects, but he confronts the type by showing installations as display contexts that establish points of view, emulating, idealizing and interpreting the experience of the exhibition. By independently constructing ways of seeing and understanding the exhibition, the catalogue resists being an appendage to the exhibition, despite their close relationship. Giedion may have viewed Bayer’s catalogue as an important but secondary work of graphic design, but this article argues that it is of primary significance as an exhibition catalogue, an unusual essay on the book typology that is conscious of its history while moving outside — to other types of book design and to exhibitions — to transform it.

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Published in Architectural Histories, v. 5, issue 1, article 1, p. 1-22.

© 2017 The Author(s)

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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