Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘illustration’

07 NOVEMBER, 2011

Leonard Weisgard’s Stunning 1949 Alice in Wonderland Illustrations

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A vibrant mid-century homage to one of the most beloved children’s books of all time.

It’s no secret I have a soft spot for obscure vintage children’s book illustration, especially by famous artists or of famous works. Spotted on the lovely Vintage Kids’ Books My Kids Love, here’s a beautiful 1949 edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, illustrated by Leonard Weisgardonly the second version of the Lewis Carroll classic, and the first with color illustrations UPDATE: Reader Mark Burstein, an avid Alice collector, kindly points out there have been multiple editions before Weisgard’s, including some in color.

The vibrant, textured artwork exudes a certain mid-century boldness that makes it as much a timeless celebration of the beloved children’s book as it is a time-capsule of bygone aesthetic from the golden age of illustration and graphic design.

Alice was beginning to get tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and having nothing to do; once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversation in it, ‘and what is the use of a book’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?'”

Complement with a visual tour of the best illustrations from 150 years of Alice in Wonderland.

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02 NOVEMBER, 2011

Maurice Sendak’s Rare Velveteen Rabbit Illustrations circa 1960

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Two icons converge in obscure vintage children’s volume.

It’s no secret I have a wicked obsession with vintage children’s book illustration, especially from obscure editions by famous authors or artists. For instance, I recently discovered some fantastic little-known artwork by Andy Warhol for two volumes of the Best in Children’s Books series from 1958-1959. But the series, it turns out, is a treasure trove of hidden gems. The the 1960 volume Best in Children’s Books #35 features a version of The Velveteen Rabbit illustrated by young Maurice Sendak, predating Where The Wild Things Are by three years and done right around the time when legendary mid-century children’s book patron saint Ursula Nordstrom was busy nurturing Sendak’s budding genius.

The charming duotone illustrations bring Sendak’s signature style of simple whimsy to one of the most beloved children’s stories of all time — a priceless combination.

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you.”

Complement Best in Children’s Books #35, which is hard to find but is well worth the hunt, with Sendak’s little-known posters celebrating the joy of reading and his rarest art of all.

Images via Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves

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01 NOVEMBER, 2011

Maira Kalman Illustrates Michael Pollan’s Iconic Food Rules

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A diet your grandmother would approve, why boredom isn’t edible, and what peas have to do with time travel.

I love love, love artist Maira Kalman and revere the work of Michael Pollan, easily today’s most vocal and influential advocate of smart, sustainable food. So I’m thrilled with today’s release of a Kalman-illustrated edition of Pollan’s classic compendium, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual — the timelessly sensible blueprint to a healthy relationship with food, now delivered with Kalman’s characteristically colorful and child-like yet irreverent aesthetic. This new edition also features 19 additional food rules, including Place a bouquet of flowers on the table and everything will taste twice as good and When you eat real food, you don’t need rules.

From the very first page, starting with Kalman’s introduction, the book is an absolute — and guilt-free — treat:

Everyone eats food. That is the universal connector. Life is fragile. Fleeting. What do we want? To be healthy. To celebrate and to Love and to live Life to the Fullest. So here comes Michael Pollan with this little (monumental) book. A humanistic and smart book that describes a Sane and Happy world of Eating. It asks us, gently, to hit the Reset button on manufactured food and go back in Time.” ~ Maira Kalman


Treat Meats as a Flavoring or Special Occasion Food

Cook

Don't Overlook the Oily Little Fishes

Shop the Peripheries of the Supermarket and Stay Out of the Middle

Eat When You Are Hungry, Not When You Are Bored

Kalman’s illustrations emanate the kind of thoughtful simplicity that underpins the message of Pollan’s classic, which is based on the premise that the wisdom of our grandparents might teach us more about eating well than the overly complicated nutritional scheming purveyed by the popular media.

Pollan has an excellent audio slideshow on his site.

Already a powerful classic in its original edition, the Kalman-illustrated Food Rules is, quite simply, irresistible.

Images courtesy of Maira Kalman / Penguin Press

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27 OCTOBER, 2011

The Little Book of Hindu Deities: Pixar Animator Rethinks Mythology

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What the goth Goddess of Time has to do with elephant head transplants and Pixar’s pastimes.

What if you could cross The Night Life of Trees, the magical artwork based on Indian mythology, with The Ancient Book of Myth and War, that delightful side project by a team of Pixar animators? You’d get The Little Book of Hindu Deities: From the Goddess of Wealth to the Sacred Cow — an impossibly charming illustrated almanac of gods and goddesses by Pixar animator Sanjay Patel. These beautiful stories from Indian mythology span the entire spectrum of human experience — petty quarrels and epic battles, love and betrayal, happiness and loss — with equal parts humor and respect, pairing each full-color illustration with a lively profile of that deity.

In the book’s introduction, Patel notes his fascination with Japanese animation, which influenced his style in depicting the Hindu deities — a curious case of creative cross-pollination across cultures. For an added smile, Patel originally self-published the book before Plume picked it up.

A playful morphology of a mythological pantheon, The Little Book of Hindu Deities is as captivating and entertaining as it is informative without being encyclopedic — a light and joyful journey into Hinduism by way of the contemporary pop culture aesthetic.

Patel’s follow-up, The Big Poster Book of Hindu Deities, featuring 12 stunning removable prints, is also very much worth a look.

HT @ShamilaJiwa; images courtesy of Sanjay Patel

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