October 15, 2010
Poetry Leaving Certificate Anthology, WJ Steele, Fallons (1969). Cover design: Cor Klaasen
Introducing English, Augustine Martin, Gill & Macmillan (1970). Cover design: Cor Klaasen
Léamh Só, Proinsias MacSuibhne, Fallons (1972). Cover design: Cor Klaasen
Thank you to everyone who came along to the Culture Night exhibition in Mary’s Abbey. It was a very enjoyable night in a wonderful historic setting. I was delighted to be asked by Ruth Kelly to take part in the event and it was great to share the evening with Donny Keane, whose ‘Life thru my Mobile Phone’ proved to be a personal and witty view of Dublin and beyond, and my brother Barry McCormack who finished the proceedings perfectly with song.
Since then I have been working through Cor Klaasen’s amazing archive of work and selecting pieces for the upcoming exhibition. Above are two examples of his abstract geometric work and also a beautiful two colour overlay illustration for the cover of Léamh Só. The image on the poster for the exhibition is adapted from an illustration on the cover of another book from the same period – When the Saints…
The opening is on Wednesday 3 November from 6-8pm and all are welcome. Brian Lalor, printmaker and editor of The Encyclopedia of Ireland will open the exhibition.
The exhibition will run from Thurs 4 – Wed 10 November inclusive and will be open daily from 11–5.
Cor Klaasen: Jackets, Covers & Sleeves
Venue: Adifferentkettleoffishaltogether, 18 Ormond Quay Upper
Times: Daily 11 – 5pm. Thurs 4 – Wed 10 November inclusive
Opening: Wednesday 3 November, 2010, 6 – 8 pm. Guest Speaker: Brian Lalor
Sponsors: The Netherlands Embassy, Gill & Macmillan and Hudson Killeen.
August 30, 2010
Walking in Wicklow, J.B. Malone, Helicon (1964). Cover design by Cor Klaasen.
The unfortunate Fursey, Mervyn Wall, Helicon (1965). Cover design by Cor Klaasen.
Meeting Christ, Brian Kelly, Educational Company of Ireland (1971). Cover design by Cor Klaasen.
I included a single cover by Cor Klaasen in a previous post and commented that I hadn’t managed to track down many examples of his work despite knowing that he was both talented and prolific. Since then I’ve been contacted by Cor’s widow, Tineke, who has been generous enough to show me the comprehensive archive of his work which is in the family’s possession.
Cor Klaasen is a significant figure in the history of Irish graphic design and it is indicative of the lack of importance attached to visual culture in Ireland that such a rich body of work has faded from view. In order to begin to rectify this situation Vintage Irish Book Covers, along with the Klaasen family, are organising an exhibition of Cor’s work from the sixties and seventies which will coincide with Design Week 2010. The exhibition will consist of book cover designs for Gill & Macmillan, Fallons, Helicon, Torc and the Talbot Press, amongst others, as well as a series of striking record sleeves designed for the Mercier Press. You can see more of Cor’s work and updates on the exhibition here: www.corklaasen.com.
Cor was a natural illustrator whose style developed over his career as he experimented with different media and techniques. In the fifties he favoured pen and ink. His artist’s notebook Het is Niet Waar (1954) captures the essence of his style from this period – a wonderful mix of George Grosz grotesque and Jim Flora’s exuberant fun. I hope to add some pages from this marvelous book to the corklaasen.com site soon.
By the sixties Cor is using cut-outs and collage to achieve his lively designs. Most of the examples above use this method. The exception is The Unfortunate Fursey which is a mix of pen and ink and colour overlay in three colours. All of the rest are just two colour jobs but achieve maximum effect by imaginative use of colour mixing.
Walking in Wicklow was one of the first of Cor’s covers that I became aware of and it is still one of my favourites. The couple have been cut from black card using a swivel blade. No mean feat considering the original cutouts are reproduced same size on the book cover.
April 7, 2010
Meet Christ and Live!, Michel Quoist, Gill & Macmillan (1972). Cover design by Cor Klaasen.
Prayers of Life, Michel Quoist, Gill & Macmillan (1973). Cover design by Roísín Daly.
Above are two of the most striking Irish book covers I’ve seen from the early seventies. Both are for religious books by French writer and priest Michel Quoist.
Cor Klaasen (1926-1989) was a Dutch designer who came to Ireland in 1956 after answering an advertisement placed by O’Kennedy Brindley in an Amsterdam newspaper. Holland’s loss was Ireland’s gain as Klaasen proved to be a very capable designer and later an enthusiastic educator. He designed many book covers for Folens, Gill & Macmillan and Helicon amongst others. Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to track down many examples, but it is nice to know that they are out there waiting to be unearthed.
The elusive Roísín Daly’s design for Prayers of Life is every bit as strong as Klaasen’s cover. The computer punch tape makes a far better cityscape then it does storage medium – it takes about 10 metres of tape to store 4k of information. Daly also designed covers for Gill & Macmillan’s Logos imprint but beyond that I can find no information.
Many thanks to Regan in the Winding Stair Bookshop for allowing me to mount the Vintage Irish Book Cover exhibition in the shop. The display is still in place for a short time if anyone still wishes to view it.