Skira founded the eponymous publishing house in Lausanne in 1928. During the 1930s Skira opened an office in Paris and the publishing house became a meeting place for important artistic figures of the time. In 1933, Skira contacted André Breton about a new journal, which he planned to be the most luxurious art and literary review the Surrealists had seen, featuring a slick format with many color illustrations. Skira's restriction was that Breton was not allowed to use the magazine to express his social and political views. Later that year Minotaure began publication, and continued until 1939.
During the second world war Skira's publishing house was forced to reduce its activities, but in 1948 for the celebrations of its first twenty years Henri Matisse designed the cover of the catalogue, a woman’s head which was to become the unofficial trademark for Skira.