Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

25 APRIL, 2012

The Animal Fair: Vibrant Vintage Children’s Illustration by Alice and Martin Provensen

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“A little owl looked wise. ‘I think there’s going to be a parade,’ he said.”

As a lover of children’s books, especially vintage ones, I was instantly enthralled by the work of artist-author duo Alice and Martin Provensen, who began their collaboration when they got married in 1944 and went on to produce a wealth of vibrant, textured illustrations wrapped in heart-warming stories of curiosity and kindness. Among their most delightful gems is The Animal Fair (public library), originally published in 1952 and featuring 22 original stories and poems by the Provensens. Along the lively journey to the farmyard, zoo, and forest, we also find humorous semi-useful advice, like “how to sleep through the winter” and “how to recognize a wolf in the forest.”

(It isn’t hard to imagine that Kate Messer’s lovely modern children’s illustrations were inspired by the Provensens’.)

One day a hummingbird sat all by himself on a pole. A sparrow fluttered down and perched beside him. Then a chickadee, a titmouse, a finch, a pippit and other small birds joined them.

‘Is something going to happen?’ asked a wren.

A little owl looked wise. ‘I think there’s going to be a parade,’ he said.

Martin Provensen passed away in 1987. Alice Provensen is 94 years old and continues to illustrate.

Thanks, Jeremiah

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23 APRIL, 2012

E. B. White’s Only New Yorker Cover, April 23, 1932

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‘I can’t draw or paint, but I was sick in bed…and I had nothing to occupy me, but I had a cover idea.’

On this day in 1932, E. B. White — who wrote for The New Yorker for five decades (not centuries) — contributed his only cover for the magazine. (For those who find delight in that sort of thing, it happened to be New Yorker issue number 365.)

In his fantastic 1969 Paris Review interview, the same gem that gave us his timeless insights on the role and responsibility of the writer, White tells George Plimpton the cover’s story:

I’m not an artist and never did any drawings for The New Yorker. I did turn in a cover and it was published. I can’t draw or paint, but I was sick in bed with tonsillitis or something, and I had nothing to occupy me, but I had a cover idea — of a sea horse wearing a nose bag. I borrowed my son’s watercolor set, copied a sea horse from a picture in Webster’s dictionary, and managed to produce a cover that was bought. It wasn’t much of a thing. I even loused up the whole business finally by printing the word ‘oats’ on the nose bag, lest somebody fail to get the point. I suppose the original of that cover would be a collector’s item of a minor sort, since it is my only excursion into the world of art. But I don’t know where it is. I gave it to Jed Harris. What he did with it, knows God.

Various prints of the cover are available from the Conde Nast store, and it can also be found in the altogether fantastic 2000 compendium, Covering the New Yorker: Cutting-Edge Covers from a Literary Institution.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0375869832/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=braipick-20&camp=0&creative=0&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=0375869832&adid=02YXM5MD2VFTBCC5WMM6&Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

20 APRIL, 2012

Book Spine Poetry vol. 3: New York

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The charismatic chaos of the city, captured in book spines.

It’s National Poetry Month and the book spine poetry fun continues with another installment, this time about New York.

People occupy everything
Everything sings:
A glorious enterprise!
This is New York

The inadvertent poets:

Catch up on the first two installments, entitled The Future and Get Smarter.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0375869832/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=braipick-20&camp=0&creative=0&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=0375869832&adid=02YXM5MD2VFTBCC5WMM6&Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.