Grimm, an artist’s book and more

 

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Cotsen unprocessed items 6903748 & 6903746 respectively

Above are two recently purchased acquisitions. The larger object, featured here with its brown cloth silk-screened slip case, stamped title piece, and twine ties, is the artist’s book Grimm, created by Mikhail Magaril and Victor Bogorad (New York: Summer Garden Editions, 2012). The work consists of twelve pasted together 23 x 14.5 inch folio leaves (in this way each full page spread is in fact one large single sheet). Nine of these are solely devoted to a different Grimm tale or theme. Every page is Illustrated throughout by Magaril’s iconic ink blots, printed in letterpress, and silk screened in both black and brown; the work is truly unique (it is actually the first of only ten copies).

We are fortunate to have this very haunting, and very Russian, interpretation of the Grimm fairy tales and their more nefarious aspects. As the artists explain in the book’s afterword, this work is a reflection upon the artists’ childhood experiences of the Grimm world, which they read, and the real world in the USSR, which they lived: “Life there [the USSR] had much in common with the world of Grimm fairy tales. . . The nightmarish regime badly affected the psyche of children and caused the impressionable young minds to see something sinister in every ink blot” (folio page 11). As you can see for yourself, the book is a truly harrowing and fantastical homage to the Brothers Grimm.

cover

Cover

Endpapers

Endpapers

Title page, spread 1

Title page, spread 1

Spread 2

Spread 2

Der Kleine Däumling (The Little Thumbling), spread 3

Der Kleine Däumling (The Little Thumbling), spread 3

The Brother's Grimm have been included interacting with the fairy tales themselves throughout the work.

The Brother’s Grimm have been included interacting with the fairy tales themselves throughout the work.

Silkscreened image and text of Frau Trude (Mother Trude) notice the brothers again, spread 4

Silkscreened image and text of Frau Trude (Mother Trude) notice the brothers again, spread 4

Spread 5

Spread 5

Spread 8

Spread 8

Hansel und Gretel, spread 10

Hansel und Gretel, spread 10

 

Close up juxtaposition of the two sets of siblings found above.

Close up juxtaposition of the two sets of siblings found above.

Jovial portraits of the artists, Bogorad and Magaril respectively, spread 11

Jovial portraits of the artists, Bogorad and Magaril respectively, spread 11

Authors' signatures and copy number, spread 12

Authors’ signatures and copy number, spread 12

The small black cloth box with linen ties (you thought I forgot didn’t you?) is a related treasure to the already prized first item. The title and key to the contents is supplied by the henna inked calligraphic top card:

Sketches for the book Grimm by Mikhail Magaril

Sketches for the book Grimm by Mikhail Magaril

Once opened, one is greeted by a grand total of 87 (15 x 10.5 cm) unnumbered deckle edged cards. Though 27 cards are blank, the remaining 60 cards include a vast array of draft illustrations for Grimm by Magaril.  The illustrations, executed exclusively in blue and black ink, have been cut out and pasted onto the decorative cards.  Below is a small sampling, notice that some of the proofs were not featured in the final product:

Examples, two of which feature two cards bound together.

Examples, two of which feature two cards bound together.

This large collection of small cards grants us unique access into the creation of the book Grimm. By viewing these proofs, we are offered a little window with which to view the draft processes and production choices of a very talented contemporary artist: Mikhail Magaril.

Not quite the final illustration

Not quite the final illustration

For more work by Magaril held at Princeton, check out this blog post by our colleague Julie Mellby, the curator of Graphic Arts: Mikhail Magaril

 

 

Packaging Picture Books

Into every curator’s day some drudgery must fall and for the forseeable future, it’s going to be evaluating duplicates–which is actually more fun than it sounds.

Being an omnivorous kind of collector, Mr. Cotsen has always been prone to picking up multiple copies of books. When it had to be brought (very tactfully) to his attention that two (or more) copies of the same thing had been bought within months of each other, he would quip that at least he knew what he liked. Picture books from all over Europe between 1890 and 1950 are books he particularly likes. So looking through all these duplicate and variant copies means I get to be dazzled over and over again by the extraordinary creativity of artists during this period.

Part of the fun of not knowing what will be on the truck: it’s like being handed a box of chocolate truffles–you never know what you’ll bite into next.  A week ago there was a run of striking Art Nouveau picture books.  What caught my eye in the four examples here was the progression from front cover to title page.

Below is volume 3 of Jugendland (1903), a periodical for boys and girls edited by Heinrich Moser and Ulrich Kohlbrunner that was published by the Swiss firm Künzli.  Its binding design, the endpapers, and title page are all executed by illustrator and caricaturist Arpad Schmidhammer (1857-1921). He got his start contributing to annuals like Jugendland and Knecht Ruprecht, but is perhaps better known for his propagandistic picture books like Lieb Vaterland magst ruhig sein.

Front cover  Cotsen 18814

Front cover
Cotsen 18814

endpapers  Cotsen 18814

Endpapers
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Titlepage Cotsen 18814

Title page
Cotsen 18814

The illustrations for the binding, endpapers and title page of Gartenlaube-Bilderbuch der deutscher Jugend (1902), on the other hand, are more uniform in style and subject than those for Jugendland.  The picture on the front board is by Hermann Kaulbach (1846-1909), a well-known painter famous for idealized pictures of children.  No credits are given for the endpapers or title vignette, but someone made sure that the theme of books and reading was repeated on the title page.

Front cover  Cotsen 91566

Front cover
Cotsen 91566

Endpapers  Cotsen 91566

Endpapers
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Title page  Cotsen 91566

Title page
Cotsen 91566

Except for the goblin’s eyes peeking out of the “O,” the cloth boards of O Hastromanvi [The Goblin] (Prague: B. Koči, 1903) by Jožena Schwaigerová are conventional compared with the patterned endpapers.  Both the binding design and endpapers contrast sharply with the rather severe title page, with the bold type cutting deeply into the thick paper.  Whoever drew the repeat of frogs and pearls is not identified, so perhaps it was also the work of the Bohemian illustrator Hanus Schwaiger (1854-1909) who did the delightfully creepy pictures for the story.

Front cover Cotsen 44194

Front cover
Cotsen 44194

Endpapers Cotsen 44194

Endpapers
Cotsen 44194

Title page  Cotsen 44194

Title page
Cotsen 44194

There’s a frog prince on the front board of Ernst Dannheiser’s Miaulina: Ein Märchenbuch für kleine Kinder (Cologne: Schaffstein, 1902), but he hasn’t got any pearls on his crown. Illustrator Julius Diez (1870-1953) let his imagination run wild in this collection of fairy tales. In the book, the tales are told to an industrious little girl by the cat Miaulina, who is shown with a satchel over one shoulder. There is the repeat of the pine tree men and red squirrels on the endpapers, an added illustrated title page where Miaulina eyes little mice watering the garden, and title page dominated by the figure of a fantastically dressed Moorish slave boy, who bears Miaulina on a pillow amidst a riot of exotic birds.  And I left out the illustrated vignettes of the poor veteran mouse begging in the cold and the jaunty little fellow riding a rooster, not to mention the frame of mice, beetles and weird rootmen enclosing the table of contents!

Front cover Cotsen 150184

Front cover
Cotsen 150184

Endpapers Cotsen 150184

Endpapers
Cotsen 150184

Decorative title page  Cotsen 150184

Decorative title page
Cotsen 150184

Title page  Cotsen 150184

Title page
Cotsen 150184

These exuberant picture books may be over the top, but their packaging gives contemporary bindings of laminated boards, or sober cloth backstrip and boards covered in a contrasting color, a run for their money…