Format: Hardback

Motif Magazine (Issues 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10)

Motif magazine’s range of editorial interests was unusually broad for its time and, in the often highly segmented world of periodical publishing, it has rarely been equalled in Britain. In an editorial in the first issue, signed by Motif’s editor, the late Ruari McLean, and its publisher, James Shand, they quote the 19th-century French writer and poet Theophile Gautier: “I am a man for whom the visible world exists.” Motif, they go on to explain, “is a periodical for which the visible world exists.”

Over the course of 13 issues, published from 1958 to 1967, Motif ran meticulously researched and beautifully illustrated articles about painting, sculpture, art education, graphic design, typography and lettering, illustration, photography, architecture, wood engraving, and the history of the graphic arts. “Visual culture” had yet to become a branch of academic inquiry and Motif’s urbane editor and publisher, whose careers began before the Second World War, would not have used the term. The magazine’s presentation of a wide array of visual arts on a more or less equal footing can nevertheless be seen as a prescient early example of a new way of documenting and appreciating the “visible world.”