The New Line: Works from the Jobbing Printing Collection

  • Laura Sayers

Europe in the 1930s underwent enormous social, political and technological change. To capture some of these changes through contemporary commercial print, Philip James at the V&A’s National Art Library developed the ‘Jobbing Printing Collection’.

Through his professional network, he requested samples of work from high-profile companies and designers in Europe and North America – including items designed by members of the Bauhaus school, made for shops such as Fortnum & Mason, and for companies like Elizabeth Arden.
The New Line presents a selection of items from James’s collection, including lifestyle and trade magazines, beauty catalogues, tourism brochures and a packet for stockings.
The exhibition takes its title from a German lifestyle magazine (Die Neue Linie) published between 1929-43. Die Neue Linie brought avant-garde design to a mass audience, employing leading practitioners from the Bauhaus including László Moholy-Nagy, alongside contributors such as Walter Gropius and Thomas Mann. In 1938, one of its key contributors, Herbert Bayer, emigrated to America to escape the Nazi regime and its uncompromising attitude towards experimental artistic approaches.
The movement of people and ideas is key to understanding global modernism. Presenting examples from America, mainland Europe and the United Kingdom, this exhibition shows how designers from across the Western world influenced each other in the pre-war period.
Using categories that include leisure, new technologies, public services and infrastructure, this exhibition demonstrates how design was used to communicate new technologies, as well as how new technologies and techniques influenced the design that was produced.
In addition to works from the Jobbing Printing Collection, The New Line includes material from the private collections of Alan Powers, Brian Webb and Paul Rennie.
Image credits: All installation shots photographed by Nigel Green.