Contempo! Phobia! Ultimo! 

These are just three of nine books designed and illustrated by John Vassos between 1927 and 1935, all part of the Wolfsonian-FIU library’s collection of rare artist monographs.


Born in Greece in 1898, Vassos fought in the First World War before emigrating to American in 1919. In the United States, Vassos quickly established a reputation for himself as a talented stage and set designer and a window display and advertising artist. In the late 1920s, Vassos began to publish a number of books that have since become famous for their Art Deco bindings and modernist illustrations.


Stephanie Valere, an FIU student in Professor Heller-Greenman’s American Art class, made a presentation this past Friday that honed in on Vassos’ illustrations in Phobia.


Published in 1931, this work showcased the artist’s futuristic interpretations of such psychological disorders as claustrophobia, acrophobia, mechanophobia, and other maladies associated with the pressures of modern living.

~ by "The Chief" on April 23, 2011.


  1. This is so interesting I was not aware of this site and my mentioning of my presentation on John Vassos. He was such an amazing individual and I learned so much more impressive things about him through studying his work and invention designs. A great person to study in Art History!

  2. […] books by himself and his wife, Ruth, plus some of Oscar Wilde’s works. The Wolfsonian-FIU library collection for rare monographs houses the three books pictured […]

  3. […] sarahbguestperry American, Art book/folio, Art Deco, Print November 9, 2019November 9, 2019 0 Minutes “The Department Store.” 1929. © of the artist. Fair use license. via Plate from John Vassos’ book “Ultimo,” published in 1930 with text written by his wife Ruth. © Estate of the artist. © Copyright 2019, Bauman Rare Books. Fair use license. via Untitled. 1930’s. © Estate of the artist. Image © The Wolfsonian, Florida International University. Fair use license. via… […]

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