ITEM: Il Linoleum Nelle Costruzioni Scolastiche, printed in Milano by the Society for Linoleum, 1933. Spiral bound, printed wrappers, 11x8 inches with about 150 pages, with illustrations throughout. Very nice condition. There is no record of this publication whatsoever in WorldCat. $225
In my imaginary History of Lines there is a chapter or two for humans-in-line(s). In the history of the world, the fourth and fifth decades of the twentieth century—the 1930’s and ‘40’s—were big ones for human lines. Big does not imply good, because as we all know lots of humans lined up for all manner of unspeakable nastiness during this time and well more than 100 million didn’t make it out alive (considering all of the wars, purges, revolutions and stupidity).
The lines here are a little more benign, though with shriveled overtones of corrected respect.
Oppressive obedience in a well-designed environment is still like dressing your ear-infected 14-year-old St. Bernard/Jack Russell (?!) mixed breed in baby booties—its just not right, and these images attest to this simpy comparison. All of these photographs come from a delightful manufacturer’s catalog for linoleum products (Il Linoleim nelle Costruzioni Scolastiche), which was printed in Umbria in 1935.
I’ll undoubtedly write a post on this stylistic beauty later on, but suffice to say for right now that it really is a lovely thing. If only we could forget the Mussolini part. Now I’m no fan, necessarily, of linoleum, but if I had to live on a linoleum island far removed from civilization and I had to choose a design for my world, I would choose the designs from this catalog, without hesitation. They’re spare, well-proportioned, beautifully design utilitarian designs; they are also very shiny and cold with a dispirited order, but so it goes. The catalog seems to speak for its times, the inspired design bowing to the weighty needs of the flatulent state.
Even though the people (mainly child people) are in very structured environments, they still look as though they really don’t believe in whatever it was was happening--of course they were at school, or in an academic environment, or hospital, or something (as the titlf of the work states). There is something just wrong in the child-straight lines and seemless expanse of linoleum, something that looks as though details have been left out, that there is a ground-in sameness to everything, that the indifference to difference is so to make the children of a sort of sameness. Ihope that they did okay--most would be around 80 or 85 by now, if they survived.