The extensive collection of MAK Library’s graphic design and works on paper was put within covers and titled Ephemera. The word comes from the Greek word ephemeros, meaning “lasting only one day, short-lived” – loosely translated, a term most often used in biological context to identify particularly “short-lived” animals or plants. The publication that goes by the same name by the Museum für Angewandte Kunst presents an impressive collection of consumer graphics from the 18th century all the way to the present including graphic works such as letters and colored papers, envelopes, invitations, concert and movie tickets and labels, ex-libris, congratulations cards, bookmarks and menu cards, complaints stamps, playing cards, dance and table cards, business cards and advertising material. What exactly makes them interesting is their unique “short-livedness”, these items are often very beautifully and skilfully designed and of high technical quality. They represent artistic movements of different times, as well as social rites, personal and commercial forms of representation, and advertising strategies, together offering a rare cross-view over these easily discarded yet momentarily highly valued items. Ephemera looks into the meaning and value of items that has lost their original meaning; “such as admission tickets, whose validity became obsolete over a century ago, business cards whose owners passed away decades ago, greeting cards whose occasions long since became history”, Christoph Thun-Hohenstein explains in his introduction. But the publication is so much more than an exhibition of ancient paraphilia but a treasure chest of cultural history.
The book itself is beautiful with a sturdy wood relief printed on the Crush Corn 120gsm cover that protects the 464 GardaPat Kiara 135gsm pages within with a red edge printing Class Koloman Moser’s model paper from around 1905, making Ephemera a crown jewel of your bookcase. Both papers are available at Europapier.
EPHEMERA. Die Gebrauchsgrafik der MAK-Bibliothek und Kunstblättersammlung MAK Studies 24 German/English 464 pages, 600 color images 26,5 x 21 cm, Hardcover MAK, Wien / Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2017 Available at MAK Design Shop or at vfmk.org.