11 November 2016 until 26 February 2017
Protect - promote - provoking curiosity
Book covers

For 550 years, books have been being printed – the first 400 years without real covers. In contrast to the title page, which has always been highlighted, decorated covers were a novelty. Books were provided in individual deliveries and it was common for the buyer to have them bound himself. That is why, to this day, historical libraries impress with their magnificent leather covers. In the second half of the 19th century, initially children's and young adult books were published with colorful covers and later novels followed suit. In 1896, the Munich Albert Langer Publishing House released a book series with colourfully illustrated covers and presented them in specially manufactured showcases. From then on, it was only a couple of years, until book covers were the norm and developed into a highly popular task for graphic designers. The height of book covers began, when protection covers, which were easier to be illustrated than leather or linen bindings, emerged in the 1920s. Since the 1950s, paperbacks with coloured titles have been appearing. The heyday of strict designers emerged with the international style. They gave the paperback series by Penguin, Rowohlt, Ullstein and Suhrkamp a uniform binder. To this day, the multicoloured picture on books has proven to be quite attractive. Even in times of e-books and online-trade, printed books with their illustrated covers score with a range and quality like seldom before. In its graphic-hallway, the MKG shows a selection of about 400 book covers from their beginnings until today.

Ill.: Karl Arnold, Rumpelstilzchen – Berliner Allerlei (detail), Berlin 1922, draft for a book cover, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016