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Exhibition Arts et métiers graphiques. art and graphic design in the interwar period.

From October 21 to January 29, the Leuven University Library hosts an exhibition on the French graphic arts periodical Arts et métiers graphiques, a magazine that appeared from 1927 to 1939. Its owner, Charles Peignot, was the head of the Deberny et Peignot type foundry. Together with a group of prominent printers, designers and publishers, he aspired to create the most complete and luxurious publication on the graphic arts. As such, virtually every aspect of graphic design was discussed: the book (its format, covers, paper, illustrations etc.), typefaces, advertising and photography, but also gramophone records, waffle irons and orange wrappers, for instance.

Arts et métiers graphiques had to be a monument of modern quality printing. Each of the 68 issues was printed on multiple types of exclusive paper. The magazine’s creators experimented with the page layout as well as with various typefaces and illustrated the articles with numerous images and pictures – in black and white, but also in color. They used the most advanced printing techniques, so as to turn Arts et métiers graphiques into an example of innovative typography worth following. At the same time, the magazine served as a catalog of the different typographic services offered by its creators. Finally, many famous authors, critics, designers and photographers contributed to the magazine: think of for instance innovative photographers such as Brassaï or Man Ray, the designer Cassandre or authors like Paul Valéry and Philippe Soupault. In that way, both the magazine’s material aspects and its content were of the highest quality.

In this exhibition, we will explore the magazine and four of its main points of interest: typography, advertising, photography, and bibliophilism. At the same time, we will also look at similar publications from the period, so as to get a better understanding of the context in which the magazine came into being.

Those who want to learn more on Arts et métiers graphiques can buy the volume ‘Arts et métiers graphiques. Kunst en grafische vormgeving in het interbellum.’ in the University Library or at Peeters bookshop (Leuven). Multiple experts on graphic design, photography, the bibliophile book … from Belgium and abroad have written interesting and legible articles on the main points of interest of the magazine.


The exhibition is organized by the MDRN research team together with the Department of Heritage & Culture of the University Library. It takes place in the University Library (Mgr. Ladeuzeplein 21, Leuven) and can be visited every day between 10:00 and 17:00.