Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘illustration’

27 AUGUST, 2012

Kay Nielsen’s Stunning 1914 Scandinavian Fairy Tale Illustrations

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Haunting whimsy from the Golden Age of illustration.

As a lover of illustrated fairy tales and having just returned from Sweden, I was delighted to discover, thanks to the relentlessly wonderful 50 Watts, East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North (public library; public domain) — a collection of Scandinavian fairy tales, illustrated by Danish artist Kay Rasmus Nielsen (1886-1957), whose work you might recall from the all-time greatest illustrations of Brothers Grimm and the fantastic visual history of Arabian Nights. Originally published in 1914, this magnificent tome of 15 stories was recently reissued by Calla Editions, the same Dover imprint that revived Harry Clarke’s magnificent illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe, and features 25 color illustrations, along with a slew of black-and-white ones, in Nielsen’s singular style of haunting whimsy.

'And this time she whisked off the wig; and there lay the lad, so lovely, and white and red, just as the Princess had seen him in the morning sun.'

'She could not help setting the door a little ajar, just to peep in, when—Pop! out flew the Moon.'

'At Rest in the Dark Wood'

'The Troll was quite willing, and before long he fell asleep and began snoring.'

'As Far Away from the Castle'

'Tell me the Way, she said, And I'll Search You Out'

'Just as they bent down to take the rose a big dense snow-drift came and carried them away.'

'He Saw Her Reflection in the Water'

'She Held Tight to the White Bear'

'Then He Took Her Home'

'The Wolf Was Waiting for Him'

'I am the Virgin Mary'

'The Queen Did Not Know Him'

'The North Wind Went Over the Sea'

'The Man Gave Him a Pair of Snowshoes'

'The Lad in the Bear's Skin, and the King of Arabia’s daughter.'

'She saw the Lindworm for the first time as he came in and stood by her side.'

For the ultimate illustrated fairy tale treat, complement East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North with Taschen’s recent The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, one of the 11 best children’s and picture books of 2011.

50 Watts

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31 JULY, 2012

The Art of War: The Ancient Chinese Classic Adapted for Dystopia circa 2032

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A graphic novel about heroism, corporate greed, and the convergence of Wall Street and Chinatown.

Some two thousand years ago, Chinese general Sun Tzu penned The Art of War — an ancient military treatise that went on to become one of the most timeless and revered strategy books of all time, its insights extending beyond the military and into just about every domain of tactical intelligence. In The Art of War: A Graphic Novel (public library), writer Kelly Roman and illustrator Michael DeWeese adapt the classic to a futuristic world where wars are waged on a militarized Wall Street, China is the dominant global superpower, and Sun Tzu’s ancient teachings unfold in a dystopian interplay between corporate greed and the undying human capacity for empathy.

Though exceedingly gory and lacking the edutainment value of graphic novels as serious nonfiction, The Art of War: A Graphic Novel peels away the many layers of what heroism means, what it can be and should be, to paint a portrait of a world that might be around the corner if we don’t align our corporate strategies with our cultural and human values.

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27 JULY, 2012

Illustration (The Finest Occupation): An Animated Short Film

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A charming tongue-in-cheek testament to the art of taking joy in one’s work.

I recently had the delight of moderating an AIGA conversation on the future of illustration with all-star illustrators Christoph Niemann, Nicholas Blechman, and Jennifer Daniel, in which two things became immediately clear: The borders of what illustration actually is are ever-shifting, and the finest illustrators take enormous pride and pleasure in their work, despite its creative frustrations.

From Temujin Dorandocumentarian, illustrator, language-lover, provocateur — comes Illustration (The Finest Occupation), a lovely short film about illustration based on a poem he wrote in his last year of (illustration) school, “a fictitious congratulatory letter written by a proud tutor to a recent graduate.” Doran’s drawings reminiscent of Edward Gorey and tongue-in-cheek rhymes, despite their irreverent tone, deliver the same tremendously important message Ray Bradbury so passionately articulated: Work with joy, always.

The greatest illustration
is not mere decoration
but succinct accumulation
of creative demonstration
and ratifying observation
of the intended subjectation
with alarming innovation
and shining punctuation
of all relevant information
done with stoic consideration
for its intended situation
exceeding all expectation
with regard to the examination
of images domination
to that of textual affectation
that commands generation upon generation
to convey without hesitation
their continued exultation
at its supreme imagination
within the realms of communication.

Thus it delights be beyond all anticipation
to relay my admiration
and relentless adoration
at your unbridled determination
towards your education
and after serious meditation
in the height of contemplation
it becomes my acclimation
to give you confirmation
after just deliberation
and close interrogation
of your startling illumination
variation
adaptation
and exemplification
accomplished in the field of illustration.

And so after such examination
it is my proud pronunciation
of your swift galvanization
a first rate qualification
you may receive with due humiliation
despite its floccinaucinihilipilification
(worthless accreditation)
so it becomes my recommendation
without prevarication
for celebration
and recreation
to be your obligation

Yours truly
Professor Toby Flosotation
B.A. M.A. Ph. D. Illustration

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