LONDON, UK.- The V&A is marking the 70th anniversary of Penguin Books with a display of some 500 of Penguin's iconic book covers. Drawing on material from the Penguin archives that has never been exhibited before, the display will show how Penguin has responded to - and influenced - changing trends in British culture. On view will be classic orange fiction paperbacks, the striking monochrome cover of Ulysses and the menacing design of Anthony Burgess' Clockwork Orange. The display will also include contemporary covers by artists such as Peter Saville and Sara Fanelli ( Winner of the V&A Illustration Awards 2004).
Penguin was launched with the pioneering concept of publishing cheap paperback editions of distinguished books, just sixpence per title. Its distinctive approach to cover design and typography was equally advanced and has become an integral part of publishing and graphic design history.
Since 1935 each Penguin book cover has perfectly captured the culture of its time. The story begins with the simple bands of colour and the classic Gill Sans typeface - a formula that was rigorously applied for some time. A major revolution came in the 60s with creative rule-breaking, such as The Medium is the Massage where a printer's error was incorporated into the title. It comes up to date with the innovative Great Ideas series, shortlisted for the Designer of the Year Award, 2005.
The display is divided into three distinct themes; 'A Living Book' displays the changing covers of 'The Great Gatsby', showing how this popular classic has taken on various guises from 1950 to the present day. 'Covers Living with British Culture' are represented by Wartime Specials and designs from the swinging sixties. The final part is 'Cover Design Now', which takes visitors through the fascinating design process of Penguin covers today from paper to computer screen and back to paper. The display is rich in original art work throughout, and the evidence of hand-drawn roughs, corrected proofs and intriguing in-house notes bring the finished designs to life.
The display will also include a dramatic bank of hundreds of Penguin book covers. The covers will be grouped by their genre: orange for fiction, green for crime, turquoise for Pelican and mixed for contemporary.