In 1973 the Alberto Corazón exhibition titled ” Read the image” took place at the College of Architects headquarters, Barcelona and in the Iolas Velasco Gallery, Madrid. Ferràn Cartes wrote in the college’s CAU magazine –one of the few examples of design and visual communication critique in Spanish publications (see previous post)– that “an image’s ability to operate is not attained by being merely a one-dimensional vehicle of one’s personal thesis, but by enriching it with as many levels of discourse as it can take, and urging the reader to apprehend as many as possible.”
I like to return and dwell on the Alberto Corazón book covers designed almost fifty years ago. Are these covers enriched with various levels of discourse or mere “one-dimensional vehicles of one’s personal thesis”? Paradoxically I consider them to be both. Alberto’s editorial designs in those late-Franco years for Redondo Editor, New Science, Comunicación, Ariel, Castellote, Grijalbo (Mexico), Doncel, Pablo del Río, Seix Barral or Visor, are –in my view– both at once: a density of levels serving a very clear stance tinged with political commitment. The photographic treatment and strongly contrasted illustrations, the repertoire of fonts, which represent the scarce resources available to the underground, the intended “akwardness” –to conceal the sometimes uncertain outcomes of an editing process not always controllable and others clearly intentional– are, for me, a great exercise in design consistency “loaded with depth”.
As Fernando López Aguilera writes in his text for the Working with Signs catalogue “the book cover is emblematic of Alberto Corazón’s graphic expression, the large format of his identity, along with the poster, of unquestionable matrix, where the language of his pictorial grammar and diction as a designer merge”. When much is discussed about the slow demise of the physical book, or of its foretold intentional death, I think that the covers in this post, confirm the materiality of this object Alberto Corazón loves so much, needed something that, for now, the digital medium is not able to transmit.