Pictograms - Warja Lavater

Nieves and 50 Watts


Pictograms by Warja Lavater / ISBN 9783907179642 / 124-page paperback, 7.7 x 10 inches, co-published by Nieves and 50 Watts / a new reprint of the long-gone 2008 edition / A wonderful publication from this Swiss pioneer of artist's books

Want to place a wholesale order? You can find most 50 Watts publications on Faire, and/or you can email will AT 50wattsbooks.com for a full list (I distribute a few books not on Faire).


An early progenitor of the artist's book genre, Warja Honegger-Lavater was born in Winterthur, Switzerland in 1913. She worked as an illustrator for the magazine Jeunesse from 1944-1958, and moved to New York shortly thereafter where she began a wonderful series of artist's books.

These books were published between 1962 and 1971, an exceptionally ripe time for artists to turn to the bookform, a time when the most often cited "first" artist's book also appeared, Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1962) by Ed Ruscha.

All of Honegger-Lavater's books were made using the accordion-fold binding. Her aesthetic has been aptly described as "very clean, very Swiss." Each book tells a story, sequentially, like traditional books, but varying from them by rarely using words. Instead she chooses a symbol to represent, for example, a character, as in the red dot standing in for Red Riding Hood in Little Red Riding Hood.

These 60 ink pictograms, drawn between 1976 and 1996, were originally printed individually as A2 plane prints.


"Now these are abstract comics: non-representational and/or abstract symbols arranged in sequence on a single page, with formal considerations of size, density, orientation, direction – and flow – being the central concern and primary focus... Here’s a book that will get any rusty synapses in the visual cortex back in action!"--Copacetic Comics


For customers outside the US, it may be easier to order from Nieves.

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