he Handbook is not intended to be read as a history of graphics, but rather as a selection of pressing questions on theory and high-profile people and events from the contemporary scene.
The Graphics Handbook is the sequel to Abecedario, the extremely successful volume on 20th century graphic design by Sergio Polano and Pierpaolo Vetta that launched Electa’s Design & Graphics series in 2002. Sergio Polano and Paolo Tassinari have reproduced the same structure and intent in this second volume. The Handbook is not intended to be read as a history of graphics, but rather as a selection of pressing questions on theory and high-profile people and events from the contemporary scene. It also aims to clarify the confused aesthetic views and the banal idea of cosmetics for artefacts, subject to trends in fashion, that our times seem to have of graphics, even within the hallowed portals of higher education. In the first part the Handbook traces a “theory of graphic artefacts”, linked to the central idea of graphia (etymologically valid both for writing and painting), and then goes on to deal with, among other issues, the theme of visual communication by public institutions and the antithetical relationship between graphics and propaganda. In the second part, the Handbook exams a series of high points in graphics from the 20th century, featuring figures such as Herbert Bayer, Adalberto Libera, Albe Steiner, Nizzoli and Oliveri, Carlo Scarpa, Alan Fletcher, Susan Kare and John Maeda; not to mention the history of brands like Coca-Cola and others. The final essay on banknotes underlines the way in which graphic design is an ubiquitous, and frequently anonymous, activity that many are unaware of.