Juan Ángel Cotta (1920-1962) was a talented young artist from Buenos Aires that charmed art critics from across the globe with his personal graphic style.
His later work, the 103 covers of Los Libros del Mirasol — one of South America's most unique and appealing illustrated editorial collections — has been mostly lost and forgotten over time.
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Stretch goal: We're delighted! Thanks to all for your support.
If we reach $21k (111%) before our Kickstarter campaign ends, we will add a 1 ink silkscreen package to the book.
This special packaging is based on the design of cover nº 13, The Natural History of Nonsense by Bergen Evans, designed by Cotta in 1961.
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In 1959, Cotta was entrusted with the design of almost 120 book-covers for the series Los Libros del Mirasol (the Books of the Sunflower). This series comprised authors from the four corners of the world such as Faulkner, Pirandello, Oscar Wilde, Anatole France and others. Los Libros del Mirasol was extremely successful, not only in Argentina but in the whole of Latin America and Spain.
Cotta’s work was cut short in his prime, as he passed away tragically in a car accident in 1962. But today, he is being revived like never before.
Over the past five years, we have tracked down more than a hundred hardback books across Argentina, Spain, and the US, photographing and digitally restoring Cotta’s covers to compile them all in a single book. We’re now creating a book to showcase Cotta’s 103 beautiful bookcovers and preserve them for the generations to come—with a captivating foreword by renowned graphic design authority Steven Heller.
Cotta’s work, especially a collection of hardback books he illustrated in 1960 under the series title 'Los Libros del Mirasol' is one of the missing links between South American publishing and the European modernist traditions. —Steven Heller.
Los Libros del Mirasol hardcovers were originally produced in a limited color scheme under poor printing conditions. Edited by Fabril Editora and measuring 4" W x 6.5" H (100 x 165mm), they were intended to meet the needs of an extensive readership eager for
cultural input—which warranted affordability in printing. However, quality of content was not compromised and neither was cover artwork; the book titles in the collection featured a wide range of topics by first rate authors, and Cotta’s art transcended material constraints using economy in shapes and color to create a unique universe of covers.
About Juan Ángel Cotta.
I think that drawing is a means of expression, a language. And that in the twentieth century we must speak the language of the twentieth century. —Juan Ángel Cotta, Publicidad Argentina, September 1955.
Juan Ángel Cotta was born in Buenos Aires in 1920. His family moved to the countryside where his father, Juan Manuel, was a teacher and principal at several elementary schools.
Cotta was a man of many talents. With a solid family and education background, he initially earned his living as a literary translator of some major titles such as Miller’s A View from the Bridge, Thomas’ Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog and Adventures in the Skin Trade, and Heyward’s Porgy & Bess, while trying to establish a reputation for himself as a cartoonist in the local newspapers.
Of all young talents among the Argentine graphic artists he is the most original and ingenious. [...] Cotta is an artist who wants to do what he is able to, and he is able to do what he wants. —Sigwart Blum. Gebrauchsgraphik 7, International Advertising Art, 1953
He soon found himself among the best graphic humorists and illustrators of the 40’s and 50’s, and his noteworthy contribution earned him due recognition and first-rate awards. A quick glance at his later work — which our book aims to reassemble as if pieces of an unfinished puzzle — reveals his engagement with the artistic vanguards of his time and his masterly use of the line and color plane.
Yet, his artwork remained disperse for decades. Military uprisings followed by political instability in Argentina, in addition to a mysterious fire in the publishing house archives, are some of the reasons that conspired to make his beautiful illustrations pass almost unnoticed.
Our book, 'Cotta & Los Libros del Mirasol' will explore Cotta’s work like never before. Showcased together in one single volume for the first time, his book covers will reveal the visual universe he constructed.
All the 103 color plates will be reproduced from high-res photographs of the original covers, compiled and sewn bound in cloth, with a full color dust jacket. The book will measure 7 x 11 in. It will also feature a foreword by Steven Heller and a comprehensive analysis on Los Libros del Mirasol.
— 7” W x 11" H (180 x 280 mm) 144 pages.
— Printed from high-res photographs of the original hardback books.
— Printed on 105 lbs stock (155 gsm).
— Clothbound with 1 color foil (Cloth cover to be defined).
— Full Color Dust Jacket.
— Bilingual edition (English / Spanish).
Collector Set rewards.
Five unique sets of rare books from the Los Libros del Mirasol collection are available as part of our Collector's Set rewards.
Each set consists of three original books with covers illustrated by Cotta. Original books are in very good condition.
Backers also receive a copy of 'Cotta & Los Libros del Mirasol'.
For high-res images, sample spreads, and a press release, please visit here.
Production Schedule .
Book printing will begin in February 2019. All books and rewards will ship to backers in May 2019.
Flecha Books – the publishers.
Flecha Books is an editorial project by illustrator Leandro Castelao and graphic designer Francisco Roca, which seeks to recover, curate, and publish graphic material that has been either overlooked or neglected, and make it visible again in high quality books for an international audience of designers, visual artists, and book lovers at large.
Leandro Castelao, studiocastelao.com
Crowdsourceress Alex Daly, Théo Münch, vannalexandra.com
Blanca Cotta, Graciela Skilton Cotta.
For about 5 years we’ve been working on this project and since an early stage we saw it as a high quality printed book. Nevertheless, we knew we had a huge challenge ahead of us: Publishing the work of an amazing Argentinian artist that not many people knew of.
We felt we had to talk directly to our audience, tell them the whole story. And what better vehicle to do so than Kickstarter? We believe crowdfunding is a powerful tool for new small independent publishers like us.
Thank you for reading. We can't wait to share this book with you.
Please note that after the campaign's completion, you will be asked to supply a delivery address and confirmation of the name that you want to appear in the book. Should you fail to supply this information, your name might not appear in the printed book, and delivery might be delayed. Thanks for your attention in providing us with this information.
Duties and taxes vary between countries and international shipments may be subject to local duties and taxes. These are the responsibility of the recipient and not Flecha Books.
Risks and challenges
The books have been photographed and digitally restored. The foreword, introduction and notes are written, and the overall book is designed and ready to print. Having designed and produced many books ourselves, we understand the process and see very little risk for backers of this publication. We will be reviewing hard copy proofs before printing and plan on updating backers regularly on each step of the process.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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