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Faber & Faber

  • Faber & Faber shows the importance of publishing houses as supporters of contemporary art movements and of the contribution of emigrants, helping to popularise their art and artistic theories.
  • Name:
    Faber & Faber
  • Kind of Organisation:
    Publishing House
  • Introduction:

    Faber & Faber shows the importance of publishing houses as supporters of contemporary art movements and of the contribution of emigrants, helping to popularise their art and artistic theories.

    Word Count: 29

  • Content:

    Faber & Faber more than any other shows the importance of publishing houses as supporters of contemporary art movements and of the contribution of emigrants to London, helping to popularise their art and artistic theories. Especially from the mid-1930s, the books on art and art theory published by Faber & Faber, in which emigrants were also involved, show how artists, artist groups and movements expressed themselves through these publications and at the same time exhibited their work. Faber & Faber was founded in 1929 and brought out contemporary literature by Samuel Beckett, T. S. Elliott, James Joyce, Edith Sitwell, Stephen Spender and many more. At the same time, the publishing house was a place for modern art and architectural theory from the very beginning. Its predecessor, Faber & Gwyer, founded in 1925, published R. H. Wilenski’s The Modern Movement in Art (1927), a seminal work. Books such as Art Now (1933) and Art and Industry (1934) by Herbert Read communicated the awakening of modern art, design and architecture. Read was a friend of one of Faber & Faber’s long-time publishing directors, the writer and later Nobel Prize winner T. S. Eliot (Faber 2019, 61). Read’s Art Now. An Introduction to the Theory of Modern Painting and Sculpture can be described as a pioneer publication for its attention to German-speaking artists: at a time when predominantly French art was still considered modern in England, Read wrote about contemporary positions in Germany and also presented a work by Kurt Schwitters. This presence in Read’s popular survey work, which has been reprinted many times, may have helped Schwitters when he emigrated from Norway to London in 1939.

    Faber & Faber also published the companion volume to The Leicester Galleries’ (Leicester Square) Paintings and Watercolours by Paul Klee exhibition, which brought together 27 works by the artist. Herbert Read wrote the introduction, referring to Klee’s death the previous year and calling the war a “darkening screen over the art of the between-war years. We know – or rather we hope – that the screen will one day lift, revealing a stage that has been transformed beyond all recognition.” (Read 1941, 2) Herbert Read, who had been responsible for the 20th Century German Art exhibition three years earlier, emphasised that Klee had been one of the artists defamed in Germany: “Klee must have died unhappy, for his painting had been banned in the country which he had honoured with his presence for the most active part of his life.” (ibid., 6) In 1948, another volume on Paul Klee was published in the Faber Gallery series – again with an introduction by Read.

    But Faber & Faber did not only publish books in which works by emigrated artists defamed under National Socialism were discussed, the artists themselves were also given a voice at the publishing house. The New Architecture and the Bauhaus by Walter Gropius (1935) – incidentally the first book on the Bauhaus to be published in Great Britain – coincided with the architect's stay in his London exile and described his achievements as founder of the Bauhaus art school. Gropius was also published in the Circle: International Survey of Constructive Art, an art book also released by Faber & Faber in 1937. In this anthology, edited by J. Leslie Martín, Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo, British avant-gardists from the fields of painting, sculpture, architecture and design jointly advocated a “constructivist” agenda, which, while professing a certain primacy of a “precise geometrically ordered set of form” (Beckett 1982, 18), admittedly found very different expressions in the various artistic disciplines. Marcel Breuer, for example, wrote an essay in which he described the material metamorphosis of his furniture designs from aluminium to wood (Breuer 1937). Naum Gabo, on the other hand, saw the “constructive idea” more holistically as “a general concept of the world” (Gabo 1937, 6). In addition to Breuer, Gabo and Gropius, the artist László Moholy-Nagy, who was also exiled in London, was also featured in Circle.
    Stocks of Circle were destroyed in a bombing raid during the Blitz. In a letter Faber & Faber stated “it was a great pity that the remaining copies of Circle were destroyed. The stock was insured under the compulsory War Risks Insurance, but this insurance covered only the stock and not the editor's interest in later sale.” Handwritten notation (by Ben Nicholson?): “The first letter said 107 copies lost: no chance of republishing.” (Faber & Faber 1941) This limited the book’s circulation. It was not until 1971 that Circle was reissued by Faber & Faber.

    However, the Bauhaus artists living in London also appeared in other publications by the Faber & Faber publishing house. The architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner, who had to move from Göttingen to London, published his first book after his emigration with Faber & Faber in 1936: Pioneers of the Modern Movement. From William Morris to Walter Gropius. Here Pevsner drew a connection between the sophisticated design principles of the Arts and Crafts movement in 19th century Britain and continental modernism, especially the Bauhaus art school. In 1939, László Moholy-Nagy’s book Von Material zu Architektur (1929) was published in English translation as The New Vision. Fundamentals of Design, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture by Faber & Faber.
    Art institutions can also be linked to the publishing house: Lilian Browse published monographs on Augustus John (1941), Walter Sickert (1943), Constantin Guys (1946) and Barbara Hepworth (1946) with Faber & Faber and thus contributed significantly to the reputation of her gallery Roland, Browse & Delbanco – co-founded by the two emigrants Henry Roland and Gustav Delbanco.
    Art book publishers such as Phaidon and Thames & Hudson, both founded by émigrés, revitalised the London book market from the late 1930s onwards, sometimes competing with Faber & Faber for the same authors. Herbert Read, who published several dozen books with Faber & Faber, also published with Thames & Hudson from 1959. Faber & Faber, which for decades conducted its business from Russell Square in Bloomsbury, had to move in 1971 when London University took over the premises. Today, the publishing house resides in Bloomsbury House, 74–77 Great Russell Street.

    Word Count: 992

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    24 Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1 (until 1971); Bloomsbury House, 74–77 Great Russell Street, Holborn, London WC1 (now).

  • Signature Image:
    Klee. With an Introduction and Notes by Herbert Read. The Faber Gallery. Faber & Faber, 1948, cover (METROMOD Archive).
  • Media:
    Klee. With an Introduction and Notes by Herbert Read. The Faber Gallery. Faber & Faber, 1948, pp. 2–3 (METROMOD Archive).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Breuer, Marcel. “Architecture and Material.” Circle. International Survey of Constructive Art, edited by J.L. Martín et al., Faber & Faber, 1937, pp. 193–202.

    Browse, Lillian, editor. Augustus John: Drawings. Faber & Faber, 1941.

    Browse, Lillian, editor. Sickert. Faber & Faber, 1943.

    Browse, Lillian, editor. Constantin Guys. Faber & Faber, 1946.

    Browse, Lillian, editor. Barbara Hepworth. Sculptress. Faber & Faber, 1946.

    Browse, Lillian, editor. Degas dancers. Faber & Faber, 1949.

    Faber & Faber. Letter to J. Martin. Ben Nicholson Papers (Tate Library and Archive, London, 7 November 1941), TGA 8717/1/2/1077.

    Faber, Toby. Faber & Faber. The Untold Story. Faber & Faber, 2019.

    Gabo, Naum. “The constructive idea in art.” Circle. International Survey of Constructive Art, edited by J.L. Martín et al., Faber & Faber, 1937, pp. 1–10.

    Gropius, Walter. The New Architecture and the Bauhaus. Translated by P. Morton Shand, Faber & Faber, 1935.

    Klee (The Faber Gallery). With an Introduction and Notes by Herbert Read. Faber & Faber, 1948.

    Martín, J.L., et al., editors. Circle. International Survey of Constructive Art. Faber & Faber, 1937.

    Moholy-Nagy, László. The New Vision. Fundamentals of Design, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture (New Bauhaus Books, 1). Translated by Daphne M. Hoffmann, Faber & Faber, 1939.

    Pevsner, Nikolaus. Pioneers of the Modern Movement from William Morris to Walter Gropius. Faber & Faber, 1936.

    Read, Herbert. Art Now. An Introduction to the Theory of Modern Painting and Sculpture. Faber & Faber, 1933.

    Read, Herbert. Art and Industry. The Principles of Industrial Design. Faber & Faber, 1934.

    Read, Herbert. “Paul Klee.” Paintings and Watercolours by Paul Klee, exh. cat. The Leicester Galleries, London, 1941, pp. 2–6.

    Read, Herbert. “A Nest of Gentle Artists.” (1962) Art in Britain 1930–40 centred around Axis, Circle, Unit One, exh. cat. Marlborough Fine Art, London, 1965, pp. 7–8.

    Word Count: 273

  • Author:
    Burcu Dogramaci
  • Date of Founding:
    1929
  • Metropolis:
    London
  • Entry in process:
    no
  • Burcu Dogramaci. "Faber & Faber." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/1470/object/5145-11267251, last modified: 27-04-2021.
  • László Moholy-Nagy
    PhotographerGraphic DesignerPainterSculptor
    London

    László Moholy-Nagy emigrated to London in 1935, where he worked in close contact with the local avantgarde and was commissioned for window display decoration, photo books, advertising and film work.

    Word Count: 30

    Herbert Read
    Art HistorianArt CriticPoet
    London

    The British art historian Herbert Read established himself as a central figure in the London artistic scene in the 1930s and was one of the outstanding supporters of exiled artists.

    Word Count: 30

    Visual Pleasures from Everyday Things
    Booklet
    London

    Visual Pleasures from Everyday Things is a booklet written in 1946 by the emigrated architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner with the aim of aesthetic education and teacher training.

    Word Count: 26

    Farewell Dinner for Walter Gropius
    Dinner
    London

    Friends and colleagues came together on 9 March 1937 to send off the architect Walter Gropius and his wife Ise Gropius, who had decided to leave for the United States.

    Word Count: 28

    Roland, Browse & Delbanco
    GalleryArt Dealer
    London

    Émigré art historians and art dealers, Henry Roland and Gustav Delbanco, along with Lillian Browse, opened their Mayfair gallery, Roland, Browse & Delbanco, in 1945.

    Word Count: 24

    Marlborough Fine Art
    Art Gallery
    London

    Marlborough Fine Art was founded in 1946 by the Viennese emigrants Harry Fischer and Frank Lloyd in the Mayfair district, focused on Impressionists, Modern and Contemporary Art.

    Word Count: 26

    Thames & Hudson
    Publishing House
    London

    The emigrants Eva Feuchtwang (later Eva Neurath) and Walter Neurath founded the Thames & Hudson publishing house in 1949, which published art history books, photo books and collection catalogues.

    Word Count: 28

    Kurt Schwitters
    ArtistPoet
    London

    The artist and poet Kurt Schwitters lived in London between 1941 and 1945, where he stood in contact to émigré and local artists, before moving to the Lake District.

    Word Count: 27

    20th Century German Art
    Exhibition
    London

    The 20th Century German Art exhibition of 1938 gave visibility to artists who had been defamed at the Munich exhibition Entartete Kunst and were persecuted by the National Socialist regime.

    Word Count: 29