I found this piece whilst scrounging around on the web. As is often the case with these things, there was no information about the artist provided with it, but it did have a title. I liked it well enough anyway and knew it would be perfect for Pigtails’ followers. It seems to be a digitally designed collage piece, and I particularly love the beams of light emanating from her head.
Time for some album art! In this batch we have some old stuff and some new stuff, with cover art from Black Sabbath, William Fitzsimmons, The Game, Tones on Tail and many others, so let’s get started.
Our first album cover is for a band we all know, Black Sabbath. This is the cover for their live Reunion album, and it is spectacular. First off, it sort of references the cover of Ozzy’s solo album No Rest for the Wicked. But beyond that, I just love these demon toddlers (probably portrayed by the same model) with their little cloven hooves and tiny wings. That, along with the fact that they’re girls, makes them anti-cherubs, I think. The cover was designed by Glen Wexler, who also did the cover for Van Halen’s Balance that I profiled several years ago (and that Wexler himself commented on). You could almost say this is a counterpart cover to Balance. It may just be my favorite Black Sabbath cover now. Well, it’s a tossup between this and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (front and back), beautifully illustrated by Drew Struzan.
Glen Wexler Studio (Official Site)
Wikipedia: Glen Wexler
Our next cover is for Relative Ash’s Our Time with You. I really know nothing about this band other than that they formed in the mid-90s and are said to sound something like Deftones (I haven’t listened to them). They seem to have put out this one album and then broken up. If anyone has more info about the band, this album cover or its creator, you are welcome to comment on it. I like the simplicity and the Pandora’s Box symbolism here.
Here are a couple of covers for albums by singer-songwriter William Fitzsimmons. The first featured album, Until When We Are Ghosts, was his debut. An interesting factoid about Fitzsimmons: both of his parents, who were also musicians, were blind.
I really love this next cover though. The little equestrienne in her dressage jacket and bowler derby is certainly adorable. The album itself is actually the second of two albums that are thematically linked, with each one being about one of Fitzsimmons’s grandmothers. The sad tale of the singer’s father and his father’s mother (the subject of this album) is recounted on Fitzsimmons’s website if you want to read it. You can find it here.
Now here’s an album with a cover featuring the childhood countenances of three well-known country-pop singers, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton, just in case you ever wondered what they looked like as little girls. By the way, if you aren’t aware of it, the young Dolly has been portrayed (wonderfully, I think) by Alyvia Alyn Lind in two made-for-television movies as of this post.
Tones on Tail was a side project of Bauhaus guitarist Daniel Ash that only lasted a couple of years but nevertheless put out several singles, three EPs and one LP, that being this album, Pop. The cover depicts a nude toddler girl balancing upon a wall near the woods, but there is something not quite right about her face/head. It almost looks like she is wearing a mask and wig combo, or at least a wig. That hair just does not look real. If it is, it’s a really horrible haircut. That, combined with the darkness of the trees in the background, invest the image with an undeniable creepiness. The photographer of the image is listed on Wikipedia (and presumably in the album’s notes) as Mr. Atlas, which makes sense I suppose, as he probably didn’t want t be identified for taking a nude photo of a child in the woods.
And speaking of toddlers with things on their head, our next album cover shows a little girl wearing some kind of warrior’s helmet in addition to her pink princess dress and pink tennis shoes. The album is Take It Like a Man by the Butcher Babies, a heavy metal band fronted by two female vocalists. Obviously the masculine helmet is intended to contrast with the girlishness of the dress and, well . . . the girl herself.
Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf is a compilation album by rapper The Game. I don’t really know much about The Game or this album, but I really liked the cover, with its sassy little girl in red showing a big bad wolf who’s boss. Now, what ever could that be a reference to? 😉
Our next cover is for Unknown Mortal Orchestra‘s single release SB-03, the third in an ongoing series of psychedelic instrumental tracks released by the band every Christmas. The cover was created by Jenny Nielson, front man Ruban Nielson’s wife. The child in the photo may be herself when she little or someone else entirely. I really don’t know, but I like her creative flair nonetheless.
Anders Osborne is singer-songwriter heavily influenced by the blues. All of his output so far has been released on small labels, most of them specializing in blues and jazz music. Little kids flipping off the camera is nothing new to the internet, but I think this is the first time I’ve actually seen it as an official piece of art, in this case for Osborne’s album Peace.
Our penultimate album cover is actually the first in a whole series of anthology albums collecting lesser known late sixties pop music. The album series features the exact same artwork, only each one is rendered in different colors. At a guess, I would say the original illustration came from the pen of Aubrey Beardsley, but try as I might, I was unable to confirm that. So, as with most of these, the artist will have to remain unidentified for now.
And last but certainly not least is this beautifully illustrated cover for Robin Crutchfield‘s Into the Dark Wood. Crutchfield is one of those peculiar souls who has been quietly making his own sort of art and music on the fringes for decades, influencing many but never quite becoming as well-known as those who came after. He began as a performance artist which soon transitioned into music, and then, along with his band DNA, he became one of the pioneers of the avante-garde musical movement known as No Wave. Eventually he began making music eerily similar to (but not quite) Medieval music, of which Into the Dark Wood is his latest. The cover art, I’m quite certain, is by some Victorian fairy artist, though I’ve been unable to pin down who. My hunch is Edward Robert Hughes, but again I was not able to confirm it. I would really love to know who created this piece, so if anyone out there is willing to research this more thoroughly I would be eternally grateful. I would love to feature the original image here, especially if I can get a larger one online somewhere.
Today is Pigtails in Paint’s 6th anniversary. Not an auspicious one to be sure and I admit to some reservations. For one thing, even though this site was founded by Pip 6 years ago today, it cannot be said that we have been in continuous operation that long due to technical issues and outright censorship. Recently, Pip designed a little banner to celebrate our 1000th post, but again I have reservations. As the site evolved, it made sense to consolidate a number of shorter posts and, on occasion, posts were deleted out of necessity. And then there is the issue of monthly updates: do they count as posts or only those that contain images? Some posts are long and some very short. So I decided that, so that Pip’s efforts would not go to waste, I would post his celebratory banner on this anniversary date. Thanks go to all our readers for their support particularly during these trying times. -Ron
Delphine Blais was born on February 15th, 1971 in Rouen (Northwestern France). She soon developed a taste for drawing, painting and sculpture. In 1993 she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Bordeaux (Southwestern France). Her art career was interspersed with raising two children in the early 2000s and then animating art workshops for children as well as adults.
Her technique mixes collage with acrylic painting. She glues on a support little pieces of various old material, in particular found in flea markets: wallpaper, handwritten letters, vintage photographs, fabric or lace. Then she paints over them figures of women made of successive layers of colour. In her Carré d’artistes webpage, they have been compared to stalagmites (although I tend to think rather of a kebab). On top of their elongated body stands a tiny minimalist head. Thus all emotions are conveyed by the colours and by the posture and movement of the body.
I bought one of her works, which shows a painted woman beside a vintage photograph of a little girl. It is a painted collage on a 13cm×13cm cardboard, itself glued to a larger white support that I surrounded by a black frame. Here is the photograph I took from it; I cropped it slightly outside the collage, so that one can see its irregular border and its relief above the support.
I show next reproductions of two other of her painted collages, from her Carré d’artistes webpage; I chose them because they also mix painted women with vintage photographs of little girls. The first one is 13cm×13cm, the second one is 19cm×19cm.
Finally I show a picture of the artist at work, from the information leaflet about her made by Carré d’artistes:
Well, I was planning to do an article on the Ana Torrent film El nido first, but I haven’t even got the film stills ready yet, so I will do it later this month. Meanwhile, I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way, because I know some of you have been eagerly anticipating it. So let’s get started, shall we?
The first two pieces are from a Russian photographer I’ve featured before, who went by the name Mastadont at whatever photography site I pulled these from. The first piece is a reference to a character from Slavic mythology, a water nymph called a Rusalka. But I especially like the second image. It’s a lively piece, and one of the little girls almost seems to be dancing atop the rainbow that dissects the image.
Now here’s a painting by Donald Zolan, who is known for producing highly popular if somewhat kitschy paintings of children. Any one of dozens of his works could fit into this post, but I really like this one of a young girl stooping down to get a better look at a monarch caterpillar. Zolan will eventually get an entire post devoted to his work, but for now we’ll have to settle for this one. The artist himself passed away in 2009, but his art lives on and is as popular as ever.
The Zolan Company (official site)
This is a strange image. The little girl is topless, which is odd considering the time and place the photo was taken: Coney Island, New York in the early ’90s. Unlike in Europe or other parts of the world, little girls going topless at an American beach is highly unusual, to say the least. Moreover, bucking the usual trend for these kinds of photos, this girl does not appear to be very happy. She’s frowning, and her arms are crossed defensively. Award-winning photographer Rineke Dijkstra is Dutch, but perhaps her subject here was not, and while Dijkstra clearly saw nothing out of the ordinary in having this girl pose topless, the girl herself seems less than thrilled at the prospect. Then again, the little redhead could be upset about something entirely unrelated. Who knows? This subject is now an adult, and I’d be curious to learn what was actually going on in her head at the time this was taken.
This image has appeared on the blog before in one of the old Random Image of the Day posts, but I have eliminated that post and brought the image into this one. I know nothing about the photographer. This is another image I picked up from a photography site, probably Russian. I am intrigued by the girl’s pose—she stares up at the sky with a smile, and seems to wave at someone there, perhaps a passing angel, her hand lambent in the sunlight. I only wish the photo was slightly larger.
Frank Owen Salisbury’s work has appeared on this blog before as well. The interesting thing about Salisbury is that he was a conservative hardcore Methodist and a serious portraitist who painted the likes of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill and even John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) himself. And yet, Salisbury also painted this beautiful piece featuring two nude young girls. In fact, the girls were Salisbury’s own twin daughters, Monica and Sylvia. What?! Imagine, a man like Salisbury presenting his own preteen daughters to the world without a stitch!
Ah, but alas, how differently we have come to look upon the nude child since Salisbury’s time. Today a religious conservative like Salisbury would likely be protesting such images rather than painting them. One thing I’d like to point out here: although it’s subtle, if you look at the blond twin’s wrist, you can see she is wearing a very thin bracelet, an item that ever so slightly anchors this image to modernity. Finally, it is notable that the original version of this painting is currently housed at the National Trust Museum of Childhood, part of Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire, England, which looks like an altogether fabulous place to visit if you’re ever in that part of England.
British photographer and art film director Tacita Dean took the next shot that focuses on a couple of toddlers who have clearly been enjoying a dip in a pool or pond or some such. Is it just me or does the little blond girl’s costume look to be crocheted or knitted? Whatever it is, it’s an odd choice for swimwear. Perhaps these outfits were not intended as bathing costumes at all and the water frolicking was all rather impromptu. This image has the warm, fuzzy feel of a snapshot from a family photo. Or, it could be a subtle advertisement for Johnson’s Baby Lotion.
Tacita Dean (official site)
The following piece was scanned from The Family of Children, a book I’ve drawn from before. The book contains another image of this girl from the same shoot, a closeup (bust and head) portrait, but I think this one is much more interesting. The girl looks to be preparing for a swim while a young couple (her parents?) make out on the ground behind her, completely oblivious to the girl’s presence. This image may have been shot at the original Woodstock festival—it has the right feel. I’m sure it comes from the hippie era: late ’60s/early ’70s. Because the source image was small, this is a little grainier than I’d prefer. I used the Gaussian blur feature in Photoshop to eliminate the halftone, but I didn’t want to overdo it or too much detail would’ve been lost. It’s a fine balancing act.
The photo was taken by Joan Liftin, who isn’t terribly well-represented on the web but should be. She has, in the course of her career, worked for the likes of the International Center of Photography, Magnum Photos and UNICEF, and she has edited books on other photographers such as Mary Ellen Mark, Charles Harbutt and Andrea Stern.
This next piece is a digital photo-manipulation piece by DeviantArt user Kayceeus. She works with stock photos and creates collages that she then manipulates until they resemble paintings. This one is particularly good, and had I not known, I might easily have mistaken this for an actual photo-realistic painting.
These next two photos are by Helen Eleeva. Because of the girl’s movement and the tilted angle in each, these images are dynamic. In the first photo, the girl is running along the beach with her dog. Caught mid-stride, she appears to float over the beach. In the second photo, we see her with arms outstretched and hair fanned out. Is she pretending to be a helicopter? Note how the other (tiny) figures in the shot have been relegated to the far upper right-hand corner. It’s an odd composition, to be sure, but it mostly works.
A lot of images by this artist can be found here. The particular images shown here are on page 33 (as of 150925) and the girl appears in at least 5 other photographs. Her work also appears here, here and here.
Along the same lines is this color piece by Swedish photographer and designer Jonas Elmqvist. Running with arms outstretched, the little girl is about to bolt past the frame of the image and leave it altogether. There’s something inherently true to the experience of childhood here. It reminds me of a beautiful quote by Michael Whitmore from his article Finders Keepers:
Children, like legends and rare books, are often on the verge of disappearing, and it is for those who have left the kingdom of childhood—that high-walled garden whose gate has always been left swinging in the background—to wonder where they’ve gone.
Another image borrowed from a Russian photography site. The thing that’s most striking about this image to me is how, though the one little girl is clearly nude, most of the other children (all of whom appear to be boys) are dressed in rather clean and modern-looking clothes. These kids aren’t counterculture types, I think; nudity is just accepted for young kids hanging out on a raft with their grandfather. But both the little girl and the boy sitting up front (a brother?) are also wearing crucifix necklaces. This is Russia after all—far different standards than in the US.
This image can be found here. The photographer specializes in weddings and special events so most images found online were commissioned by her clients.
This piece is by Turkish painter Ali Özhan Güneş, who often paints scenes from nude beaches. Again, the interesting point here is the contrast between the two boys wearing swimsuits and the naked (except for sunglasses) little girl who is watching them. The boys seem to be completely oblivious to the naked girl beside them, but in a year or so that will likely all change.
Ali Özhan Güneş (official site)
This is a fun image. I’m not entirely sure what the girl is wearing as the splashing water obscures most of it, but it appears to be some sort of scouting or sporting outfit. The latter makes more sense based on the title. Spain won the FIFA World Cup in soccer in 2010, which would indicate this image dates from the same year. I know nothing about the photographer here.
Canadian photographer Valerie Rosen made a name for herself documenting life in the Near East, but she also works as a portrait and events photographer. I really love the pose this little girl is in. She looks like she’s about to tumble backwards, right onto her behind. Joy indeed.
Tom Chambers is my favorite artist in this post. As a photographer, he likes to create images that hover at the edge of surreality. If you visit no other sites linked in this article, don’t miss this one. There are plenty of little girls in his work, including a whole series from which this next image is taken. The concept and symbolism here are compelling for reasons that are difficult to quantify, but I’ll do my best. First there’s the contrast between the dark, massive, earthy beast and the airy, light and graceful girl who rides it, even as she mimics the sea bird flying nearby. The bird itself hovers over the horse’s head, as if representing the true nature of the horse, who may want to fly too. Thus we have a kind of spiritual triangle here: horse, girl and bird, all connected by the water and air around them and seeking the next level up from their usual conditions. The horse is much lighter in the water, the girl is higher and freer on the back of the horse, and the bird is the most liberated of them all. The horse is a Marwari, which come from India, a nation whose people are known for their spiritual connection to the elements.
Tom Chambers Photography (official site)
Carl Wilhelmson was a Swedish painter whose best work was produced during the first quarter of the 20th century. He was a student of Carl Larsson, and his work bears much resemblance to Larsson’s, but he also studied under Bruno Liljefors, whom he might’ve inherited his love of outdoor scenes from. He didn’t paint many nudes, but one of the few he did paint is our next image. The girl’s pose feels slightly stiff and forced, and she is a tad too centered, but the light flooding the scene, the muted colors and the paleness of the medium itself tend to counteract any overly formal aspects of the piece.
Wikipedia: Carl Wilhelmson (Site is in Swedish)
Last but not least . . . two photos from Mikael Anderrson. The close bond these children have is obvious, and I could look at dozens more photos featuring the two. I wonder where they are now?
This artist can a huge account with NordicPhotos (over 330 pages) and these photos may appear there. He has another account here and some of the images from this series were probably used to promote his book Barnmark (2011).
It was my intent after publishing the Graham Ovenden post to then move on to his other relevant work. However, while considering his book, Illustrators of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” (1972), I was urged to cover a much more comprehensive volume recently published, Illustrating Alice: An international selection of illustrated editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass published by Artists’ Choice Editions in 2013.
I wanted to call this post ‘The Definitive Alice’ but the book itself admonishes its readers from regarding it that way. It is a fair argument because, after all, it only covers illustration despite including a lot of discussion about the stories and their interpretation. And instead of trying to be thorough in covering all views, we get a wonderful spectrum of personal anecdotes and revelations from artists, collectors and other lovers of Alice lore including the more prominent members of Lewis Carroll societies around the world.
Given that a definitive book on Lewis Carroll’s two stories, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871), would require a multi-volume encyclopedia, Illustrating Alice does remarkably well, bringing out many imaginative key points. The Alice stories (and their ethnic adaptations) have been published in over 100 languages and, in proportion to total word count, are more often quoted in published works than the plays of Shakespeare. Illustrating Alice has an interesting organization. First, some discussion of Alice in different countries is offered, then numerous living illustrators were asked to discuss their experiences and views. There is also some discussion of film adaptations. For serious Alice lovers, this book is an important reference and I offer a more detailed outline of the contents of the book at the end of this post.
With respect to offering fresh interpretations of Alice, it should be recognized how challenging it has been to see past Sir John Tenniel’s iconic illustrations in the original books and to fruitfully psychoanalyze Carroll’s original intent.
Due to copyright rules, new versions of Wonderland could not be produced by other publishers until 1907 (and Looking-Glass until 1946). In the U.K. there were already 30 new editions by the end of 1908. Millicent Sowerby had the distinction of being the first to have her illustrations published. Publishers would gradually compete to produce the most opulent editions. W.H. Walker was the first to include scenes not given in the original Tenniel and Harry Rountree had the record for the most color images published, 92. Two of the most popular editions were by Raphael Tuck: one based on early Mabel Lucie Attwell work in 1910 and then a more innovative approach in 1921 based on the work of A.L. Bowley giving us the first examples of pop-ups and a panorama scene with slots to place each of the supplied cut-out characters.
During World War II, there was a dearth of publishing because of paper rationing. One notable exception was the work of Mervyn Peake. He produced illustrations for both Alice books which were first published in Sweden in 1946, then in the U.K. in 1954. His images, considered among the best by many experts, were modeled after a neighbor girl named Caroline Lucas who, he believed, had just the right qualities. The high regard for his work is exemplified by a quote from Graham Greene, “You are the first person who has been able to illustrate the book since Tenniel.” This is even more remarkable when one considers that Greene was generally opposed to the idea of illustrating great literature at all. The work has since appeared in many editions while the original art deteriorated from neglect.
Libanus Press was later commissioned by Bloomsbury Publishing to take up the challenge of scanning the original drawings and putting in about 240 hours of computer work to restore them. The results were published in 2001 and shortly thereafter Libanus published them with the title Peake’s Alice in actual size each accompanied by an appropriate quote. One of the first artists to break through the Tenniel paradigm was Ralph Steadman in 1967, with a freer and highly political take on the story. In the 1970s, Alice became a kind of poster child for the Ruralists, symbolizing an appeal to nature. The most notable of those were by Peter Blake and Graham Ovenden—the Ovenden works being bound into a volume with only 10 copies in existence. This incredible range of production is indicative of the fact that illustration seems to be the last art form that can be produced without need of government grants or powerful patronage.
In the early days in France only the images of Tenniel and Arthur Rackham were seen. In 1930, the first native illustrator, Marie Laurencin, was published in a limited edition (790) with six colored lithographs. As Alice was assimilated into other cultures, her character would change. Henry Morin (1935) drew an Alice who seemed ill at ease while André Pécoud (1935) portrayed a more mischievous Alice who took delight in her adventures. Nicole Claveloux’s (1974) work is considered a watershed of modern French illustration offering a non-conformist Alice and a special affinity for the animal characters in the story. Her plate with the flamingos became so iconic that it was the basis of a postage stamp in Czechoslovakia. Jean-Claude Silbermann (2002) gives a highly surreal interpretation while Pat Andrea (2006), a noted artist of erotic women, necessarily makes Alice a young woman.
The first Alice stories in Italy were adapted by Teodorico Pietrocòla-Rossetti—nephew of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and a friend of Carroll—in 1872. This edition was not well-received. The first book featuring an Italian illustrator, Riccardo Salvadori, came out in 1913. Because there was not an established culture of children’s literature in Italy yet, Salvadori’s work, imitating that of Arthur Rackham, meant that this genre was strongly influenced by the Anglo-Saxon imagination. In 1938, under fascism, Carroll’s Alice books were banned. Any publisher wishing to publish had to follow certain guidelines. Perhaps the most famous version was illustrated by Enrico Mercatali (1938) who introduced an older dark-haired girl consistent with the appearance of local girls. In the 1950s, the blond Alice reappeared, partly as a backlash to fascist rules and partly because of the popularity of Disney’s animated film in 1951. In the 1970s, Gianni Celati (1978) used Alice as a symbol of counter-culture and Antonio D’Agostini (c1975) gave a psychedelic interpretation which fits well with Carroll’s fantastical imagery.
During the publishing of the Alice stories, the United States was generally regarded as an ugly stepchild of Britain and something of a rogue nation when it came to respecting copyright. A print run regarded as unsatisfactory by Carroll was sent to the U.S. in 1865. At least half a dozen companies sold pirated editions between 1892 and 1907 before the official expiration of copyright. They all used the Tenniel illustrations but would hire an illustrator for the cover and maybe a frontispiece. Interestingly, the Thomas Crowell edition in 1893 included the first instance of an Alice in a blue frock which became established as her signature color; all images and merchandise approved by Carroll had required the girl to be in a corn-yellow dress. A few publishers did use original work by American illustrators. Blanche McManus was distinguished as the first in 1899 for her husband’s company and Peter Newell in 1901, whose characters display an amusing array of facial expressions and interactions. M.L. Kirk’s rendition in 1904 is somewhat conventional but uses the correct color for Alice’s dress.
After the copyright expired, the floodgates opened and a number of notable American illustrators had their work published including Bessie Pease Gutmann (1907), a single illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith (1923) and Willy Pogány (1929). Walt Disney was obsessed with the story of Alice for a long time, experimenting with various treatments and designs until finally producing the somewhat unsatisfactory film in 1951. The film’s popularity had a stifling effect on innovation in the following decades. David Hall’s paintings and drawings for Disney in the 1930s did finally see the light of day in 1986 and Mary Blair’s concept art for the original film was the basis for a 2008 book.
Perhaps the first satisfactory book after this stagnant period was published in 1982, illustrated by Barry Moser and intended for adult readers. He may have been a bit gun shy of portraying the now iconic Alice and she appears only in the first and last pages as though the reader were observing things from her point of view. A number of prolific and imaginative artists have worked on Alice since then and are really too numerous to name here. An interesting historical note is that the first comic book, a distinctly American art form, was published in 1929 by George Delacorte whose fortune was later used to fund the statue in Central Park. To date, the only edition to be illustrated by a Canadian, George Walker, was produced in 1988 and may also have the distinction of being the last to be set by hand.
U.S. fans and collectors of Lewis Carroll paraphernalia contributed substantially to the scholarship and preservation of the author’s work. Lessing J. Rosenwald donated a handwritten and self-illustrated manuscript of Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures under Ground to the Library of the British Museum in 1948 which can now be viewed in its entirety online. A copy of ‘The Wasp in a Wig’, a lost chapter to Looking-Glass, was discovered and published in 1972 and Morton Cohen’s biographical research on Carroll is considered to be definitive.
Alice was first introduced to Brazil by Monterio Lobato in the early 1930s using original illustrators (Tenniel and Bowley). He started with an illustration of a fantasy world including Wonderland, Neverland etc. and one from his own stories which translates as “Yellow Woodpecker Ranch”. A number of artists have used collages made from everyday materials to add cultural texture to their work. An example is Helena de Barros (Helenbar) who sewed her own dress and incorporated herself in her images.
The popularity of Alice in Japan cannot be understated. In fact, the Alice books and associated merchandise are now so popular that it could be said to be an industry in and of itself. The first Japanese illustrator was Shotaro Kawabata (1908). Kawabata imitated Tenniel somewhat but substituted Japanese everyday articles for Europeans ones. Often these treatments were introduced in magazine form rather than stand-alone books. The benefit seems to be that new artists, both writers and illustrators, have an easier way to become established and recognized.
Tsubakibana “Chinka” Yoshimura (1911) was probably the first to illustrate Alice using strictly Japanese patterns, techniques and composition principles. The early portrayal of Alice had a curious character. Because, in Japanese culture, girls have no real transition from childhood to adulthood, girls were portrayed as very young or very mature. Girl children were expected to act very dependent until a certain age and then suddenly expected to be responsible. The idea of a transitional coming-of-age girl was new and explored seriously only in post-war interpretations. Takashi Saida (1925) was perhaps the first to create a middle class Alice with the right balance of sophistication and uncertainty seen in the English versions. In the 1930s, the rising tide of nationalism and militarism influenced the expression in children’s books and there was a decline in sweet and innocent portrayals until after the war when all constraints on style and interpretation were obliterated. The first expression of Alice as a nymphet was in 1974 by Kuniyoshi Kaneko and many have carried on this theme, exploring Alice’s emerging sexuality.
Mainland China had a strange ordinance in 1930 which banned Alice on the silly notion that because the animals talked, it put them on the same level as human beings. Also mentioned in the text is the mystery of a strange edition produced in a short run in Inner Mongolia that seems to defy Chinese convention. Writers and artists are not usually credited in Chinese Communist publications. However, this adaptation not only gives this Taiwanese illustrator credit, but seems to be observing a more international form of copyright law.
In 1879, the first translation of Alice into Russian appeared featuring the art of Tenniel. There was a great deal of enthusiasm for this new literature and a number of editions were produced before the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. Under Soviet domination and particularly under Stalin, artists were regarded as engineers of utopian society rather than challengers of societal norms. Carroll’s works were banned outright simply because they emphasized fantasy and nonsense rather than serving a moral purpose—expressing Socialist Realism. Artistic institutions were integrated as government unions so no rogue artist could ever hope to get a commission or be published without state sanction. The principles of Soviet Communism continued to have a hold on the artistic process even after Stalin’s death.
There seemed always to be an attempt to bring a kind of order to chaos, either literally as in Aleksandr Dodon’s (2001) framing of the text with his illustrations or in some metaphorical way, making Alice the arbiter of morality in Wonderland and the Looking-Glass worlds. The fact that both stories take place in a template of game playing (cards and chess) gave Russian artists the comfort of structure and the application of rules. Julia Gukova’s illustrations break through this convention by making Alice more an integral part of Wonderland, undermining her ability to pass judgment on these dream worlds. The Russian truism that there is no absolute truth in narrative is perhaps the unifying theme of work in the region.
The first translation of Wonderland into Polish was in 1910 which included images by Tenniel mixed with an anonymous artist. The effect was confusing since the artist made no effort to match Tenniel’s design or style. It had only one edition and was quickly forgotten. Two later translations/illustrations that did have a lasting impact were by Kamil Mackiewicz (1927) and Olga Siemaszko (1955). As a caricaturist, Mackiewicz’s illustrations predictably exaggerated distinguishing traits of its characters.
A 1955 version was written by Antoni Marianowicz adhering to Communist cultural policy; any reference to class distinctions had to be toned down or reinterpreted. The particular genius of this work is that the English cultural references and poems were replaced outright by Polish ones that readers could relate to. And since Marianowicz was a humorist, this version was certainly more humorous than the original. Siemaszko also illustrated a 1969 version and there is a noticeable refinement in her technique. Most later Polish editions used mostly foreign illustrators and so there appears to be no distinctive Polish style. Only after the fall of Communism did native artists start to come to the fore. Ironically, some of the most recent editions again make use of the Tenniel drawings and so the younger generation is likely to have the same visual associations with the Alice books as their grandparents.
After discussing illustrations, the book covers film treatments of Alice. The most interesting is an essay by Jan Švankmajer who describes his relationship to Alice and how, in combination with his own childhood, it inspired the production of an independent film. His first foray into Carroll’s world was a 1971 film based on the poem Jabberwocky. He describes it as an imaginative history of his childhood up to the point when he rebelled against his father. The film opens with a child’s voice (his own daughter, Veronika, then aged 9 in the Czech version) quoting from Looking-Glass. Because the censors saw the film as containing political allegories, it was banned in Czecholslovakia and he made an English version in 1973 which traveled the globe. Only in 1989, was the original film finally seen in his home country.
Another film, inspired somewhat by Alice, was Down in the Cellar (Do pivnice, 1983) about a girl sent to the cellar to fetch potatoes and what happens to her there. Although the film was completed, it did not see the light of day for a number of years due again to censorship. Švankmajer emphasizes the importance of the dream imagery in our human development, a trait that has been long neglected because it served “no moral purpose”.
Finally, he decided to attempt Alice (Něco z Alenky ,1988). The filmmaker wanted to emphasize dream imagery but reminds us that dreams are also filled with familiar objects. All the voices, appropriately altered, would be done by the same child actress consistent with the theory that we are all the characters in our dreams. The idea is that Alice is the only live person in the film and there are no intrusions of adults in voice or body. The other characters were constructed from everyday objects from Alice’s world. The Czech studios took no interest in his work, so he got financing from foreign companies and enlisted the support of art institutions to give his work credibility. The filming was done using old discarded cameras and editing equipment and in 1986, the first Czech independent film saw the light of day. Then in 2006, a Japanese publisher asked him to illustrate both Alice books and he leapt at the chance.
“Lewis Carroll’s Alice is one of the basic books of this civilization, one of those we should take with us to a desert island, just in order to survive.” –Jan Švankmajer (2011, translated by David Short)
Another essay discusses how Alice lends itself so well to animation. Considering the fantastical nature of the stories, it seems that only this medium would have any hope of effectively portraying these magical worlds. Kamilla Elliott, in her book Rethinking the Novel/Film Debate (2003), has identified over 50 film and television adaptations. As mentioned before, Walt Disney was obsessed with producing Alice very early on and in the 1920s, he experimented with a combination of live action and animation for Alice in Cartoonland. The 1951 film distinguishes itself by featuring an actual child’s voice—that of Kathryn Beaumont who also did Wendy in Peter Pan—as opposed to young women used in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty.
A number of living artists shared their experiences illustrating Alice and the philosophy behind their approach. Michael Foreman, for example, noticed how few illustrators tried to make Alice look like the original Alice (Liddell). He also made a deliberate effort to distinguish reality (sepia) from dream (color) and insists that the real background for Wonderland must be his native Cornwall. Barry Moser muses how the story is really about loneliness because of how often the words “alone” and “lonely” appear in the text. John Vernon Lord is a stickler and points out that in the actual text, “Mad” is not applied to any particular character but rather all characters in general. Over the years, we have inherited certain assumptions because of past illustrators: the Hatter is mad, the Hatter wears a hat with a price tag on it and that, at the Mad Tea Party, things other than tea are served. Tatiana Ianovskaia observes a lightly etched eroticism implied by the various metaphors of two things being one: most notably, how playing cards are a kind of marriage of two bodies sharing one space. The other artists featured were John Bradley, Chiara Carrer, Emma Chichester Clark, Gavin O’Keefe, DeLoss McGraw, Helen Oxenbury, Ralph Steadman and Justin Todd.
A short afterword, written by Graham Ovenden, comments on the modern estrangement between adults and children and that we are often deprived of the full potential of illustrators’ talent and imagination because of economic considerations.
Some of the contributors have observed some developments in the evolution of children’s books. First of all, they feel that there is a lack of charming little details. There is an assumption that children’s books should have simple illustrations. There also seems to be no adult market for illustrated books except in France and Russia. And one final observation is that with the onset of the digital age, Illustrating Alice may distinguish itself as the last time we see this kind of compilation in hard copy.
This post is quite timely as this year is the sesquicentennial anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Illustrating Alice was published in a run of 500 for the Standard edition (68 for the Special edition which comes with signed prints) and can be purchased through the Inky Parrot Press. This publisher also sells other Alice volumes including a version where each illustration is from a different artist. For those wanting a more comprehensive analysis of the Alice texts and history should read one the editions referred to as The Annotated Alice.
Illustrating Alice summary of contents:
- Foreword by Marina Vaizey
- Alice in different countries: Brazil by Adriana Peliano, China by Richard Newnham, England, 1865–1939 by Selwyn Goodacre, England, 1940 to today by Dennis Hall, France by Michèle Noret, Italy by Caterina Morelli, Japan by Mikiko Chimori, Poland by Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska, Russia by Ella Parry-Davies, United States and Canada by Mark Burnstein
- Alice in Film: ‘Alice’ by Jan Švankmajer, ‘Animating Alice’ by Karen Lury
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (artists credited above)
- Alice Through the Looking-Glass (collected illustrations only, organized by chapter
- Alice: as through a Glass Darkly (afterword) by Graham Ovenden
- Alphabetical Checklist of English Language Editions from the lists compiled by Selwyn Goodacre and Edward Wakeling
- Index of Artists of non-English Language Editions and individual paintings
It’s time to post some girl-related album art again, and let’s start with a couple from Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish. These are both single covers, and the first is a beautifully illustrated image for a fantastic but melancholy song called Eva (originally from the album Dark Passion Play) about a mistreated little girl who runs away from home. In the image, we can see the girl is wearing a period costume from late 19th or early 20th century. She stands on her front lawn at night, carrying only a few meager belongings and looking back at the home she is about to leave, perhaps forever. It’s a lonely image for a sad song. Poor Eva.
The next image is for the song Ever Dream, which was released before the album it would appear on, Century Child. In this case, however, the cover art for the single release has little to do with the content of the song. It’s just a nice romanticized image of a little girl.
This next cover image is one of my favorites that I’ve encountered over the last several months. It’s from the band Royal Bliss, and the album is called Waiting Out the Storm. The cover image artfully references The Wizard of Oz, as well as featuring some really lovely border art that recalls Constructivist poster designs.
The next cover design I’m fairly certain comes from Jugend originally, but I do not know which issue or who the artist is. I just thought it was a lovely composition. The band is Tangemeenie and the album is The Gilded Age. Beyond that I know nothing about it.
And here is another stunning album cover design, this time for Wild Child‘s album The Runaround. A nice use of digital photocollage here.
Here are a couple from female singer Tei Shi. The first cover image—for Tei Shi’s rendition of Beyoncé‘s No Angel—looks to be a simple family snapshot of Tei Shi herself as a child, possibly in a Halloween costume or some sort of ballet outfit. I love her tutu! I have never seen one with that color combination before. The cover itself has no text.
This second image is for Tei Shi’s single M&Ms and also seems to be a childhood snapshot of the singer herself, this time in a swimsuit and painted face and holding a bunch of balloons. A birthday party photo perhaps?
Now here’s a classic! This is the cover of the Rolling Stones album It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll, which came out in 1974. The design is a photocollage where the artist, after completing the collage, then went and hand-painted over the photos. I’m guessing the little girls came from photos taken at one of Isadora Duncan’s dance schools. The costumes are right at any rate, and notice the poses of the girls in the bottom left-hand corner and compare it with this image. There’s something oddly suggestive about this image, hinting that the Rollings Stones have sex appeal to females of all ages, including little girls.
Here’s one I’ve been meaning to share for ages and just never quite got to it. But here it is now. This is the cover image for The Enchanter Persuaded album by Sinoia Caves (a.k.a. Jeremy Schmidt), an electronica musician. I quite like this album, especially the songs Through the Valley and Evil Ball. The photographer is Dewitt Jones, and the photo originally appeared in the April 1976 issue of National Geographic as part of a story on the poet Robert Frost (a big thanks to one of our readers for providing this information!)
Last but not least, here we have the cover for Little Dragon‘s Nabuma Rubberband. Little Dragon is an electronica band from Sweden. This is a great cover, very dynamic.
Among my many loves is music, and I am extremely eclectic and wide-ranging in my tastes, though I tend towards avant garde pop and rock, especially the dark and haunting varieties. Anyway, I encounter a wide range of fascinating album covers as I seek out new music, many of which fit the theme of this blog. Rather than do them mostly as single-image posts as I tended to on the old Pigtails site, because of the large quantity of them (with more being discovered almost daily) I encounter in my musical adventures across Spotify, I’ve decided to post them in groups. There will generally be no particular thematic or stylistic groupings, just a random selection of covers I really like. And so, here is the first batch.
(Note: unless otherwise specified, the artists, photographers and/or designers of these album covers should be assumed to be unidentified.)
This one is adorned with a cute photo of the singer herself as a bare-bottomed toddler. Love those boots!
This next one was actually released under two different titles, both with the same artwork. Here is one version, The Inmost Light. The alternate title is All the Pretty Little Horses.
This is the cover for Erasure’s single release of “Love to Hate You,” my favorite Erasure song, in fact.
I’ve seen the fnords! No, not the band–Robert Anton Wilson would understand. 😉
Note: a reader of the blog has correctly identified the artist for this cover as John Kenn Mortensen, who just goes by John Kenn on his blog (highly recommended for fans of Edward Gorey, Charles Addams, etc.) So a big thanks to that reader!
This cover is just absolutely enchanting:
I’ve posted a few already, but there’s no shortage of darker album art featuring young girls (especially for metal bands), so I decided to round the last few up into a single post.
The cover of Brand New’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me was originally featured on Pigtails on March 3, 2011 as a stand-alone post [deleted since — Editor]; here it is again . . .
It is by photographer Nicholas Prior.
Nicholas Prior (Official Site)
Brand New (Official Site)
The artwork for the self-titled Evelyn Evelyn album was done by the multi-talented Cynthia von Buhler; it reminds me a bit of the work of indie comics genius Charles Burns. I also love the whole backstory that was created for the fictional conjoined twins that supposedly make up the band (who are actually Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley).
Cynthia von Buhler (Official Site)
Stuck Between Stations: Evelyn Evelyn (An interesting and amusing review of the band and how it performs.)
Fates Warning (Official Site)
I love this next one! Probably my favorite of the whole batch. Creepy and haunting for sure. I also dig how all of his album titles sound like titles from some bizarre YA sci-fi series.
The Liquid Stranger (Official Site)
Muse is one of my favorite heavier bands, and this album is fantastic. This is not the original album cover but rather the alternate gatefold. The images are similar, except that on the cover the shadows are going in a different direction and a man is standing in the spot where the little girl stands.
The back of the Absolution tour DVD also depicts a young girl standing amongst the shadows of the airplane men.
Muse (Official Site)
I like anything with a post-apocalyptic feel to it, and this next one definitely fits the bill. There are actually a few bands/musicians called Oxygen, but this is a French act I know very little about. You can order the album here and that’s about all I can tell you at this point.
Queens of the Stone Age . . . another awesome hard rock band. Quite unlike anything else that’s out there right now.
Queens of the Stone Age (Official Site)
This is a Christian band and I’ve never heard them. This cover struck me as dark but hopeful, which is about right for a Christian album, and it also reminded me of the work of the AES+F art collective.
Here’s an interesting cover in that it was originally a book cover (from the urban fantasy series The Borribles, in which runaway children living underground eventually turn into immortal rat-like humanoids.) I love the fact that most of the rat kids in this image are boys but the group is led by a girl. With a knife.
Savatage (Official Site)
Yet another cool post-apocalypse-themed cover:
We Are the Fallen (Official Facebook page)
Blind Faith – Blind Faith: This would turn out to be the sole album put out by this early super-group (which included Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Steve Winwood!) The album cover–created by Bob Seidemann–was of course controversial, as it featured a topless pubescent girl holding a streamlined spaceship that bears a noticeable resemblance to a phallus. The girl was 11 year old Mariora Goschen, the younger sister of a girl Seidemann spotted on the London subway and originally planned to use as the model. The now-adult Mariora has expressed mixed views about her modelling for the album art, in part due to a claim that she did not receive the payment she originally requested (a horse) but was paid a mere £40 (40 pounds, or a little over 60 dollars at the current exchange rate) for posing topless for the album.
Now, I must confess here that I’m not quite as fond of this cover as I am of some of the others I’ve posted from the same era (namely Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy). This may be only my impression but the girl doesn’t look happy; in fact, she comes across to me as either a bit nervous or dumbfounded, maybe a little of both. Even so, I do like the composition and design of it. It’s not quite as transcendent as the Led Zep cover, but it certainly sticks in your head. And I appreciate Seidemann’s philosophy in its creation:
I could not get my hands on the image until out of the mist a concept began to emerge. To symbolize the achievement of human creativity and its expression through technology a space ship was the material object. To carry this new spore into the universe, innocence would be the ideal bearer, a young girl, a girl as young as William Shakespeare’s Juliet. The space ship would be the fruit of the tree of knowledge and the girl, the fruit of the tree of life.
The space ship could be made by Mick Milligan, a jeweler at the Royal College of Art. The girl was another matter. If she were too old it would be cheesecake, too young and it would be nothing. The beginning of the transition from girl to woman, that is what I was after. That temporal point, that singular flare of radiant innocence. Where is that girl?
So there you have it.
Bob Seidemann Photography (Official Site)
Blind Faith (Looks to be a fan site, but it’s pretty in-depth, and it includes the longer, more detailed explanation of the creation of the album cover by Seidemann from which the above two paragraphs were taken.)