The new photo-illustrated magazines of the 1920s traded in images of an ideal modernity, promising motorised leisure, scientific progress, and social and sexual emancipation. Modernist Magazines and the Social Ideal is a pioneering history of these periodicals, focusing on two of the leading European titles: the German monthly UHU, and the French news weekly VU, taken as representative of the broad class of popular titles launched in the 1920s.
The book is the first major study of UHU, and the first scholarly work on VU in English. Modernist Magazines explores, in particular, the striking use of regularity and repetition in photographs of modernity, reading these repetitious images as symbolic of modernist ideals of social order in the aftermath of the First World War. Introducing a novel methodology, pattern theory, the book argues for a critical return to the Gestalt tradition in visual studies.
Alongside the UHU and VU case studies, Modernist Magazines offers an essential primer to interwar magazine culture in Europe. Accounts of rival titles are woven into the book's thematic chapters, which trace the evolution of the two magazines' photography and graphic design in the tumultuous years up to 1933.