Quote of Note | James Welling on Publishers’ Logos

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“In the early 1970s the most cited writer in Artforum was the French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty. So I sought out Merleau-Ponty’s books published by Northwestern University Press. After some struggle I realized I couldn’t make sense of his ideas. But I came to love his publisher’s distinctive interlocking arrows on the front cover, and the interior layout and typeface. So I looked for other books published by Northwestern. When I was in New York I’d visit Papyrus Books near Columbia University and spend the evening reading philosophy and poetry in the aisles. Then I’d carefully select one volume to buy. Like Northwestern’s arrows, each publisher had a distinctive, memorable logo. Vintage Books had a fiery, anthropomorphic sun on its spine; Hill and Wang’s logo comprised interlocking black letter initials; George Braziller’s clean serif-type name locked down the title page; Grove Press placed a funny Y on the spine. Each publisher’s logo held the promise of an exciting and difficult intellectual journey.”

—Artist James Welling, a professor in the department of art and the area head of photography at the University of California, Los Angeles, in “A List of Favorite Anythings,” which appears in the winter issue of Aperture