V: AMG's Legacy
French pride, preference, and even conceit are reflected in the pages of Arts et Métiers Graphiques. The magazine always catered to its French public and measured foreign greatness through nationalistic comparison. But together with these vices, AMG was created from French logic, taste, and a love for synergy across seemingly-diverse disciplines. These latter qualities have set a standard in graphic arts publishing—even as the magazine has fallen into obscurity.
Contemporary periodicals such as Print, How Magazine, and Graphis recall the editorial spirit of AMG. All of these magazines reach broadly across the graphic arts beat by reporting on design trends, designers, and the materials and technology of the trade. They review books and frequently publish photo-essays illustrative of obscure visual expression. These publications spot the best design of the times and reproduce those pieces à la "Actualité Graphique," in a thumbnail-style idea source-book. They are glossy, thick and attractively-printed—well-suited for a design reference library, not the recycle bin.
Print and its counterparts also cover typography as AMG once did. However, the subject, application, and history of typography now command several stand-alone magazines. Baseline, Emigre, and U/lc are publications of this tradition. In fact, perhaps Emigre most closely mimics that typefoundry/publisher relationship that Deberny et Peignot and Arts et Métiers Graphiques pioneered.
Illustrated books have existed since the codex became the preferred vehicle of written information, but commercially-produced photographic books are a more recent development. Although Arts et Métiers Graphiques was not the first to publish photo books, it was part of the vanguard who elevated photography to a wondrous art media in the Modernist tradition. They legitimized photographers as artists by publishing their images and printing them beautifully and skillfully. Modern publishers like Taschen, Phaidon, and Aperture all publish on the photographic arts and strive for exquisite reproductions in the same manner.
Arts et Métiers Graphiques is only indicative of one decade of a century that was marked by exponential growth in all aspects of graphic representation. At that, the magazine served almost singularly the interests of the aesthetes in one European nation. However, this is where details make a difference. Those years through the twenties and thirties happened to act as the bridge between convention and innovation on so many fronts: the world economy fell and was rebuilt; Art Deco design was infused into the fabrication of mass-produced mundane objects; the simple and the absurd were elevated in the literary and visual arts; and by the decade's close, all nations were poised for the first war fought through mechanized destruction. So, although sixty-eight issues published over 12 years represents only a pittance of information compared to present journalistic standards, Arts et Métiers Graphiques was published at an opportune time and place, now deeming it a classic resource for graphic arts studies.