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Biographical/Historical Information

George Salter (1897-1967) was a noted American and German book designer. Born and raised in an affluent German-Jewish family, Salter began his artistic career primarily as a set designer in Berlin, working for such prestigious theaters as the Prussian State Opera and the Berliner Volksoper. He began to focus on commercial book design in the late 1920s and had produced 350 designs by 1934, when he fled Nazi Germany. When he arrived in New York, his work was already known thanks to an exhibit, in late 1933, at Columbia University mounted by Hellmut Lehmann-Haupt, curator of the University’s Rare Book Department. Salter’s designs were widely sought after by American publishers, and he received a steady flow of design commissions. His beautifully drawn and lettered jackets served as an elegant window into the works of renowned authors such as Albert Camus, John Dos Passos, and Thomas Mann. George Salter was elected to membership at the Grolier Club in 1951. Between 1937 and 1967, he also taught at the Cooper Union in New York, where he offered courses in calligraphy and lettering. In the US, he worked for eighty-nine different publishers, ultimately creating at least 715 different book jackets. Salter’s creations encompassed a wide array of styles and media. His work exhibited exquisite craftsmanship, as well as balance between typography and images. Salter found influence in such art movements as the Russian constructivists, the Bauhaus school, and the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk of the German Jugendstil. George Salter’s work has become the benchmark by which contemporary book design is still measured today.

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Salter, George: Dust jacket design for Education before Verdun / design by George Salter, Leo Baeck Institute, st 4610 Salter v. 242 Book design.