This is a slim, handsome book spotlighting the work of graphic designer, Chip Kidd, and featuring crisp, clean photographs of roughly five dozen of the covers he designed for books under the Alfred A. Knopf imprint.
People tend to either know exactly who he is or have no idea, but Kidd's the guy who did the T-Rex for the cover of "Jurassic Park." He also did landmark jackets like Tartt's "The Secret History" ; Cormac McCarthy's border trilogy ("All the Pretty Horses"); the reverse canvas of Robert Hughes' "Nothing if Not Critical" ; Martin Amis' big paycheck "The Information" ; the evocative Elmore Leonard and James Ellroy covers; and the stark, bloodstained Richmond Lattimore translation of the New Testament.
The book also touches on Kidd's novel, "The Cheese Monkeys," and his books about "Peanuts" and "Plastic Man" and his surprisingly absorbing books on "Batman" memorabilia.
Vienne's introduction - a little under 18 illustrated pages - provides a solid mix of biographical and technical information and the pictures, though somewhat reduced, are still large enough to appreciate.
The notes are also insightful. For some reason, I'd never really identified Kidd's tendency toward covers with a horizontal split; I also wasn't aware that he'd godfathered (though not designed) the jacket of Chris Ware's "Jimmy Corrigan," and was amused to learn the story behind the cover of Edmund White's bio of Jean Genet (Kidd found the signed photograph of Genet in an East Hampton bookstore but couldn't afford its $3,000 pricetag so he rented it; in route to his office, the glass over the photo cracked and Kidd kept the pane with the starburst crack rather than replacing it with a new one).
Overall, an engrossing look at a guy whom I know mostly through his art which, ironically, almost always adorns the art of others.