Picasso called him "the Leonardo of our time." Bruno Munari -- Italian artist, illustrator and photographer -- was known as one of the greatest graphic designers of the 20th-century and remains so today.

(Top image credit - Turin: Angelo Candiano, 1994)

Bruno Munari's career spanned from the 1930s through the '90s. During that time, he designed the covers and interiors of over 60 printed books. While it may almost seem unbelievable that one person could do something so specific for so long, what's even more astounding is that despite the legacy he left behind in the world of print, there hasn't been one book dedicated to his work.

However, this week thankfully sees the release of "Munari's Books: The Definitive Collection of Book Designs by Bruno Munari." It is the first English monograph to feature all of Munari's work including his children's book illustrations, art book designs and more. We decided to take a closer look at a few of the book(s) that are representative of his decade-spanning career. Witness the evolution of Munari through the decades below.

(Image credit - Mantua: Alessandro Lui)

1934 - "L'anguria Lirica"

One of Munari's first printed works wasn't even paper. This poetry book was part of Europe's Futurism movement, when many people printed on tin and bound volumes with metal in an attempt to publish "futuristically." It's both intriguing and ironic to think that now, "futuristic" print is no print at all -- a far cry from this piece of well-designed clunk.

(Image credits - Rome: Emanuele Prandi; Turin: Einaudi)

1942 - "Abecedario di Munari" & "Le Macchine di Munari"

These two works by Munari display his wide range of work, the first being a children's alphabet book and the second being a collection of complex machine illustrations. Both are playfully done, with pops of color and a spirit which Munari himself jokingly called "useless."

(Image credit - Turin: Angelo Candiano)

1956 - "Nella Notte Buia"

This children's book is one of Munari's most representative books of all time. The artist employed different types of paper for each chapter, using black paper, cardboard or tracing paper with holes and textural insertions. The concept of "Nella Notte Buia" was ahead of its time -- but, ironically, the mix of different materials forced the volume to be bound and printed by hand. The former was done by a Milanese typesetter named Giuseppe Muggiani, who used a cranking press located inside of his chapel.

(Image credit - Mantua: Graziano Peruffo)

1960 - "Bruno Munari's ABC"

The 1960s is when we see Munari publish a book in the US for the first time. This New York-printed number is another ABC book, this time dedicating a whole spread per letter.

(Image credit - Turin: Angelo Candiano)

1970 - "Guardiamoci Negli Occhi"

"Guardiamoci Negli Occhi" is not a book. It's rather a collection of randomly mixed colored paper with face drawings, and mouth and eye holes for users to mix and match to make different faces. Munari was particularly interested in representing the diverse beauty of human beings, while also reflecting the subjectivity of beauty in the eyes of the beholder. The 1970s was definitely a time for experimentation and modernism for Munari.

(Image credit - Milan: Edizioni de Vanni Scheiwiller)

1987 - "Munari 80: A un Millimetro da Me"

This deck of poetry and sketches was printed in celebration of Munari's birthday. He got to design it; what a gift to himself.

(Image credits - Mantua: Maurizio Corraini Editore; Turin: Angelo Candiano)

1994 - "La Favola delle Favole" & "Mostra Collettiva di Bruno Munari"

Even toward the end of his career, Munari continued to use mixed paper media like clear pages in his work. But his covers became more simple and modern, with stricter typefaces and harsher lines.

You can buy "Munari Books" for $40 at Princeton Architectural Press.

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