Richard Learoyd 2018–2007

A book design for artist Richard Learoyd, published by the Mapfre Foundation to coincide with a solo exhibition at Mapfre Gallery, Barcelona 2019.

Learoyd’s pictures are grounded in history. Many of his works are made in a camera obscura, one of the earliest photographic technologies and, pictorially, in dialogue with the European painting tradition. These relations register in Learoyd's pictures both in their dramatic scale and recurring themes of connection and constraint.

      In our design for the book, we sought an oblique relation to this aspect of Learoyd’s work. We wanted to suggest historical connections that provide a basis whilst avoiding any positive sense of foundation. We chose Starling, a serif font with a classical feel. By scaling it up, however, we tested its conventional aspect. Words, as a result, gain an object quality and the tension between blocks of text and white space is heightened. We treated illustrations in a similar way. Promoted from their usually secondary status, they relate more immediately to the text. Colour, olive in text and dividers, pink in spine and cover, provides a connection to Learoyd’s work in another, more playful, register - for example, on the cover, in the correspondence between bronze type embossed on a pink cloth ground and the patterning of a freckled face.