(1897-1967) German theatrical designer, teacher, calligrapher and illustrator, born Georg Salter, in active service during World War One; in US from November 1934, after being stripped of his livelihood by the German state for being Jewish; from 1940, on becoming an American citizen, he changed his name to George Salter. His career is marked throughout by his close association, as designer and illustrator, with particular firms, beginning with Verlag Die Schmiede in Weimar Germany, designing two early Franz Kafka titles for the firm, though in fact he provided covers for thirty-three separate publishers before going into exile. In America, he was instrumental – along with W A Dwiggins, with whom he collaborated frequently – in establishing the unmistakable, calligraphy-dominated, fluently dignified look of the extremely influential Alfred A Knopf list; his covers for Knopf were numerous, as were those for other publishers. Though Salter was never identified as a genre illustrator, a range of examples of his work can be found in this encyclopedia by searching the Picture Gallery [see under links below].
He is of sf interest primarily for his relationship with the publisher and broadcaster Lawrence E Spivak (1900-1994) as director of design 1938-1958 for Mercury Publications, founded by Spivak in 1937 in conjunction with his purchase of The American Mercury (later The New American Mercury), which flourished under his supervision until 1950. Mercury Publications created several book labels, and published a number of magazines, almost always designed and often illustrated by Salter, easily identified by their digest size, an instantly recognizable calligraphic sophistication with an emphasis on cursive fonts, and use of single-column pages. Among these magazines was The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, whose unique non-Pulp appearance, which has been maintained ever since 1949, was primarily due to Salter, who served as art editor of the journal until 1958. [JC]
born Bremen, Germany: 5 October 1897
died New York: 31 October 1967
about the artist
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