Graphic designer George Giusti featured in new chapbook

Authors Drew, McManus and Sternberger celebrate designer whose collection is held at RIT

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RIT Press

George Giusti: The Idea Is the Heart of the Matter, published by RIT Press, explores the life and achievements of graphic designer George Giusti.

Graphic designer George Giusti saw no substitute for clean, simple, uncluttered design to communicate an idea clearly.

George Giusti: The Idea Is the Heart of the Matter explores the life and achievements of an important figure in the history of graphic design. The new book was written by Ned Drew, Brenda McManus and Paul Sternberger and published by RIT Press, the scholarly publishing enterprise at Rochester Institute of Technology.

While Giusti gained wide praise for his graphic designs that graced the covers of Time, Fortune, Holiday and other nationally known magazines, he devoted his career to breaking down distinctions between design and art. Giusti was determined to integrate the creative freedom associated with fine art with the conceptual rigor demanded by design.

“It was the research for another one of our books, By Its Cover: Modern American Book Cover Design, that really piqued our interest in the work of George Giusti, particularly his book covers for the Doubleday Anchor Modern Science Series,” said Drew, a professor of graphic design at Rutgers University-Newark. “He had an amazing ability to translate complex information into dynamic and visually engaging covers.”

An Italian-born and educated designer, Giusti first established a professional practice in Switzerland and later, in the United States. In addition to creating important designs for books, records and magazines, Giusti created sculptures, metalwork and designed several architectural projects reflecting his eclectic aesthetic of refined modernism.

“Giusti is a pivotal figure, helping spread the modernist movement of Europe here within the United States, bringing his foundations of Italian art education and Swiss design to America,” said Sternberger, an associate professor of art history at Rutgers University-Newark. “He made his mark not only through his work for high-profile clients that valued progressive design, but also from his role as an educator.”

In 1993, the Giusti collection was donated to RIT by the designer’s widow, Margot Joachimsthal Reiche Giusti. It is maintained within the Cary Graphic Arts Collection—RIT’s rare book and special collections library. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded RIT a grant to process and organize the collection.

“We saw the book as a welcome opportunity to delve deeply into Giusti’s long and multifaceted career, a career that is so remarkably documented in RIT’s extensive archive,” said McManus, an assistant professor of graphic design at Pace University. “Because the collection includes not only finished works, but also Giusti’s meticulous sketchbooks, studies and writings, we were able to get a sense of both the trajectory of Giusti’s ever-evolving styles and his creative process.”

This is the sixth title in the Graphic Design Archives Chapbook Series. The series celebrates the achievements of key design pioneers whose work is held in the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at The Wallace Center. From the inaugural acquisition in 1986, RIT’s holdings have grown to include the work of 36 significant American graphic designers, active from the 1920s to the 1950s.

George Giusti: The Idea is the Heart of the Matter is available in softcover for $21.95 at the RIT Press website or by calling RIT Press at 585-475-6766.