Little Red T-Shirt Design

Here’s a reminder that interesting on-topic art can appear even in the most unexpected places. My own t-shirt collection is starting to get old and ratty, so lately I have started perusing some online purveyors of t-shirts. And because I like to support independent artists, my favorite t-shirt shops are Design By Humans and Tee Public. These sites are searchable by subject, and on a whim I started searching for Little Red Riding Hood-related items, of which there were quite a few. But the most interesting one I found was this one by an artist who goes by mankeeboi on that site. I immediately noticed something quite eye-opening about this image: aside from the actual riding hood, the young girl appears to be nude, with her picnic basket strategically blocking her genitalia. Most of mankeeboi’s art is fairly cartoonish; this one was something of an exception to that.

Here is the actual image:

mankeeboi – Little Red (t-shirt design)

I’m half tempted to order this shirt for myself. It’s actually a pretty good design, I think.

Edit: this shirt (and everything else at the site) is currently dropped in price from $20 to $14, so if you want to buy this or any other shirt from Tee Public, now is the time! This sale certainly won’t last forever. – Pip

 

More Than a Fairy Artist: Margaret Tarrant

Margaret Winifred Tarrant (1888–1959) was born in Battersea, England, on 19th August, 1888. She was the only child of Percy Tarrant, who was a famous landscape painter, and Sarah Wyatt.

There are no detailed biographies about the artist, despite her fame and prolific output, though we do know that she started her studies at Clapham High School and after graduating in 1905, continued her education at the Clapham School of Art. She briefly studied teaching, however her father believed she was unsuited to this profession and redirected her attention towards painting. Once established as an artist she studied at Heatherley’s School of Art from 1918 till 1923, as she believed a new school would improve her technique.

Margaret Tarrant - (Unknown Title) (1916)

Margaret Tarrant – (Unknown Title) (1916)

Margaret Tarrant - Dream Ships (date unknown)

Margaret Tarrant – Dream Ships (date unknown)

Tarrant’s first published works were Christmas cards and in 1908 she illustrated her first book, an edition of The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. The following year she created a series of paintings that were published as postcards by C.W. Faulkner. Over the next decade the artist continued to paint for various postcard publishers and also made illustrations for several books. Many of these works were exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Walker Royal Society of Artists and the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.

Margaret Tarrant - Prim Told Him Her Story (1951)

Margaret Tarrant – Prim Told Him Her Story (1951)

Margaret Tarrant - Peter and Friends (1921)

Margaret Tarrant – Peter and Friends (1921)

Margaret Tarrant - Good Morning Little Red Riding Hood (1951)

Margaret Tarrant – Good Morning Little Red Riding Hood (1951)

During the 1920s fairies became popularised, helped by the publication of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book Do You Believe in Fairies? and Tarrant was a major part of this scene. During this decade she collaborated with Marion St. John Webb on a series of fairy books, which displayed images of fairies along with short stories and poems. The books were similar to Cecily Mary Barker’s, both artists were friends, however they differed as Tarrant’s pictures were less naturalistic, more stylised and in the Art Nouveau style. Fairy stories were not the only type of paintings that the artist produced, she also created illustrations for children’s stories, books about animals, poems and verses. Additionally, she created a series of wild flower postcards, that she considered to be her best work, and religious themes appeared often. Many examples of her religious paintings can be found in this Flickr album.

Margaret Tarrant - Sycamore (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant – Sycamore (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant - Grapes (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant – Grapes (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant - Yellow Horned Poppy (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant – Yellow Horned Poppy (1920s)

After 1920 the artist was working almost exclusively for the Medici Society, who turned her paintings into postcards, calendars, greeting cards and prints. In 1936 the Society sent her on a holiday to Palestine where she enjoyed sketching landscapes and street scenes, two subjects that she rarely painted prior to this trip.

Margaret Tarrant - The Animals That Talked (1951)

Margaret Tarrant – The Animals That Talked (1951)

Margaret Tarrant - Shepherd Pipes (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant – Shepherd Pipes (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant - Toinette Sat Very Still (1951)

Margaret Tarrant – Toinette Sat Very Still (1951)

During the 1940s Tarrant slowed her output, though she did donate a lot of paintings to the war effort and produced images for about six books. With her health and eyesight deteriorating she stopped working in the mid-1950s and died from Multiple Myeloma in July 1959, leaving some pictures to friends and the rest of her estate to twelve charities.

The artist worked in many media, including pen, watercolor, graphite and silhouette type drawings. Her work is still popular today and the Medici Society is still selling prints on it’s website.

A Fairy Tale Subverted: Victoria Ying’s ‘Il Lupo’

One thing I love is stories, illustrations, films or what have you where the paradigm of the little girl in distress is turned on its head. These can be taken as feminist parables, or simply as a recognition of the fact that human beings often do not conform to expectations. Ying’s Il Lupo offers up a complete subversion of the familiar ‘little girl lost in the woods’ trope, and it does so in a rather surprising way. I am posting the first two pages here; to read the rest of it (it’s only ten pages long and a quick read), you must go here. Don’t miss this one—I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did, and Ying really deserves the traffic at her site. Do yourself a favor and read this comic!

Victoria Ying - Il Lupo (page 1)

Victoria Ying – Il Lupo (page 1)

Victoria Ying - Il Lupo (page 2)

Victoria Ying – Il Lupo (page 2)

 

The Usual Harmless Subjects: Seymour Guy

…the same old pile of cats sleeping in the corner, . . . the same old detachment of cows wading across a branch at sunset, . . . the everlasting farmers, gathering their eternal squashes; and a Girl Swinging on a Gate; and a Girl Reading; and girls performing all sorts of similar prodigies. -Mark Twain, ‘Academy of Design’, San Francisco Alta California, 1867

Seymour Guy - Pick of the Orchard (1870)

Seymour Guy – Pick of the Orchard (1870)

Twain’s derisive comment about the state of art at an annual exhibition of New York’s National Academy of Design was indicative of a psychic shift in the public after experiencing the horrors of the American Civil War. It had been custom for serious artists to make some kind of wry or satirical political statement with their art. Despite the mundane subjects of these paintings, social criticism was alive and well, but in a more subtle way; and what stronger statement can there be in a time when America needed a return to normalcy and a comfortable life? This post was inspired by a lead from a reader about an essay written by David M. Lubin. The essay, ‘Guys and Dolls: Framing Feminity in Post-Civil War America’, appeared in the book, Picturing a Nation in 1994. Lubin’s analysis centers around a painting called Making a Train and although his analysis is perhaps too conventionally Freudian, he does make some interesting points.

Seymour Joseph Guy (1824–1910) was British-born and did not gain fame in the United States until after the aforementioned exhibition, but he quite effectively brought out seemingly contradictory traits of the young girl in a compelling way. He trained with the portrait painter Ambrosini Jerôme and married the daughter of an engraver, Anna Maria Barber, before moving to New York in 1854, living there until his death. He became friends with John George Brown, and they both became known for their genre paintings of children. Having nine children of his own, Guy had ample opportunity to use them as models in his work. In the case of Making a Train, the girl depicted was most likely Anna who was nine years old at the time.

Seymour Guy - Making a Train (1867)

Seymour Guy – Making a Train (1867)

Making a Train is a seductive image for any number of reasons, some of which seem to contradict one another. For example, the painting is buoyantly innocent but also teasingly erotic. In one sense the room in which the girl plays is safe, cozy, and warmly lit, but eerie shadows loom, and on the wall a sentimental print of a child in prayer has come ominously undone. Although the girl appears independent and carefree in her play, the architecture presses down as if bending her body beneath its pressure. The items of clothing strewn before her, the toy doll stuffed in a box in the half-open cupboard, the oil lamp set down behind the bars of the banister-back chair, the jutting dresser drawer, and the rumpled, unmade bed bespeak the spontaneity of the child, but they also convey disorder and an absence of discipline . . . Clean-scrubbed, rosy-cheeked, radiant, a middle-class princess, the little girl is also Cinderella, confined to a shabby attic while her haughty stepsisters and wicked stepmother attend the grand ball that she can only dream of attending. -David M. Lubin, Picturing a Nation, 1994

Seymour Guy - Red Riding Hood (1866)

Seymour Guy – Red Riding Hood (1866)

Seymour Guy - Story of Golden Locks (1870)

Seymour Guy – Story of Golden Locks (1870)

Guy’s archetypal paintings were primarily cabinet-sized and became prized by collectors of American art. He distinguished himself from his contemporaries because of his technical skill and knowledge of the science of painting. But as fashions are always transitory, Guy’s meticulous and smooth executions fell our of favor as a new generation of European-trained artists emerged in the 1880s. Although his talent has become appreciated once again in recent times, there is still very little published about the life and career of this remarkable artist. Bruce Weber has made an attempt to remedy this shortcoming.  Several paintings are referred to in Lubin’s writing but, as it happens, Pip has been collecting other excellent examples from the internet and has shared them so they can be included here .

Seymour Guy- The Haunted Cellar (Who's Afraid?) (c1870)

Seymour Guy- The Haunted Cellar (Who’s Afraid?) (c1870)

Seymour Guy - Unconscious of Danger (1865)

Seymour Guy – Unconscious of Danger (1865)

Seymour Guy - The Crossing Sweeper (1862)

Seymour Guy – The Crossing Sweeper (1862)

Seymour Guy - One for Mommy, One for Me (1881)

Seymour Guy – One for Mommy, One for Me (1881)

Seymour Guy - Dressing for the Rehearsal (1890)

Seymour Guy – Dressing for the Rehearsal (1890)

It is interesting that artists often observe the conventions of decency as in the last image where the dresser’s head is “strategically placed”.  However, this does not seem to diminish the sensuality of the image.

Random Images: Little Red Riding Hood

The next two images come from the Bettmann collection and are illustrations involving Little Red Riding Hood.

A reader has done some preliminary research (see comment below) and has followed up with additional details.  The story is written by Maria A. Hoyer and published by Ernest Nister.  The first image of the wolf approaching Red Riding Hood was illustrated by Ada Dennis.  Finding the names and dates for illustrators in Nister publications is difficult as neither of these details were considered important and are rarely mentioned.  During the over forty year existence of the publishing company, dozens of illustrators were contracted and were required to draw in a particular style making it hard to distinguish between them.  On rare occasions, signatures or initials may be present. [160227]

Bettmann - Illustration of Wolf Approaching Little Red Riding Hood

Ada Dennis – Illustration of Wolf Approaching Little Red Riding Hood (c 1890)

According to the caption, the following image came from a slide taken of a lithograph.

Bettmann - Illustration of Little Red Riding Hood

(Artist Unknown) – Illustration of Little Red Riding Hood (c1890)

From the Bettmann Archive

Anxiety and Reconciliation: Tomi Ungerer

Sometimes, when an important figure slips through the cracks of history, a passionate filmmaker comes forward to tell the story so that his contribution is not wasted. Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story (2012) is dedicated to an imaginative children’s storybook writer and illustrator.

Tomi Ungerer - A Storybook: Petronella (1974)

Tomi Ungerer – A Storybook: Petronella (1974)

Jean-Thomas Ungerer (born 1931) was raised in Alsace, France, a region that has alternated between French and German control over the centuries. During the Nazi occupation, he found it was possible to learn a new language in only four months when the public use of even one French word was punishable. After the liberation of France, he discovered monsters among his own countrymen as he watched them burn German books in retaliation—not just the Nazi books, but those of Kant, Goethe, Schopenhauer, etc. Ungerer was able to express his childhood anxieties, which continued to haunt him throughout his life, by drawing. He was particularly inspired by illustrations appearing in The New Yorker magazine, especially those of Saul Steinberg, who taught him how a clear image can be conveyed with a minimum of lines or elements. You can see him toy with this idea in Snail, Where Are You? (1962) where a simple snail shape is revealed to be a part or a bigger scene (an ocean wave, a ram’s horn, etc.).

In 1956, he moved to the United States where he believed there would be more opportunities and became embroiled in controversy. His stories did not reflect the usual sentiments about what a children’s book should be and despite his vivid imagination, critics complained that many of his themes and images were too frightening. In 1958, he published Crictor about a boa constrictor sent to an old woman as a gift. Defying the stereotypical portrayal of snakes and people’s natural fear, he made Crictor a sympathetic character. The people of the town got used to Crictor’s presence, he played with the children and one day, after restraining a robber who was terrorizing the town, he became a hero. It is hard to imagine now, but as the book was being considered for an award, the judges felt they could not choose it on principle. Fortunately, cooler heads finally prevailed.

Tomi Ungerer - Crictor (1958)

Tomi Ungerer – Crictor (1958)

After centuries under Christian domination, most Westerners are conditioned to view things through the lens of good and evil. But in many other parts of the world, monsters are more ambiguous; Godzilla and Gamera in Japanese films are well-known examples. While the robber in Crictor was a villain, The Three Robbers (1961) turn out to be compassionate characters. Naturally, they robbed people, but in the course of their escapades, they rescued little Tiffany from an unhappy life with her stepmother. They began to use their wealth to feed and clothe her and eventually collected orphaned children and settled them in a village where they could grow up happily.

Tomi Ungerer - The Three Robbers (1961) (1)

Tomi Ungerer – The Three Robbers (1961) (1)

Tomi Ungerer - The Three Robbers (1961) (2)

Tomi Ungerer – The Three Robbers (1961) (2)

Tomi Ungerer - The Three Robbers (1961) (3)

Tomi Ungerer – The Three Robbers (1961) (3)

Tomi Ungerer - The Three Robbers (1961) (4)

Tomi Ungerer – The Three Robbers (1961) (4)

Ungerer also illustrated some classic stories such as Changing Places where a man and wife trade duties for a day—the man thinking he got the better part of the deal. He also illustrated his own rendition of Little Red Riding Hood (1974). The classic story already has strongly Freudian connotations: the symbolism of the red hood, the roles of the grandmother and the huntsman, not to mention an innocent girl’s encounter with a wolf. Ungerer’s version does not offer us a sly seducer with a hidden agenda, but a powerful gangster named Duke who decides to make Red Riding Hood a forthright proposal. Like The Three Robbers, the girl in this story has an abusive grandmother and would rather not continue bringing her care packages. Duke argues that since the grandmother’s reputation is even worse than his, Red Riding Hood would be better off staying with him. The detail of the Iron Cross around his neck suggests that he is also symbolic of German aggression against a vulnerable “French” Red Riding Hood. This makes Ungerer’s resolution to the story interesting and prophetic as he later dedicated his life to an amicable reconciliation between the French and German people.

Tomi Ungerer - A Storybook: Little Red Riding Hood (1974)

Tomi Ungerer – A Storybook: Little Red Riding Hood (1974)

Tomi Ungerer - A Storybook: Changing Places (1974)

Tomi Ungerer – A Storybook: Changing Places (1974)

Another interesting story with a surprising twist is Zeralda’s Ogre (1967). It seems an ogre has been terrorizing a town and eating its children. In response, the townsfolk do their best to hide their children much to the ogre’s frustration. Meanwhile, a farmer in a remote area who had not heard of the ogre becomes ill and has to send his only daughter to the town market to sell their wares. As she approaches, the ogre spots her and eagerly waits to pounce. But in his eagerness, he falls off a cliff and is hurt. Zeralda, distressed over this, nurses him back to health.

Tomi Ungerer - Zeralda's Ogre (1967) (1)

Tomi Ungerer – Zeralda’s Ogre (1967) (1)

It happens that Zeralda is an exceptional cook and in caring for the ogre, he is impressed by her extravagant cuisine and decides he much prefers it to children. Indeed, like “Duke” in the previous story, he proposes she stay with him to cook and shares his wealth to help her and her father. As he is no longer a menace, the children of the town are seen outside again and eventually the two fall in love, the ogre shaves his beard and they have lots of children!

Tomi Ungerer - Zeralda's Ogre (1967) (2)

Tomi Ungerer – Zeralda’s Ogre (1967) (2)

Tomi Ungerer - Zeralda's Ogre (1967) (3)

Tomi Ungerer – Zeralda’s Ogre (1967) (3)

A fertile mind like Ungerer’s would not have been satisfied with just children’s books. During a trip to Texas, he was appalled to discover the existence of segregation. After surviving a fascist regime himself, he was surprised to find something like this happening in America. According to Ungerer, this revelation prompted an explosion of creative output—a series of politically satirical posters. He later expanded his satire to include protests over the Vietnam conflict. At the time, it was not considered appropriate for an illustrator of children’s books to do work in other genres, so his political satire ruffled a few feathers, to say the least. The greatest trouble, however, was caused when he began to explore erotic subjects and even published books in that genre. Before the days of the internet, it took time for word to spread. And when he was finally confronted at a book fair and, not recognizing the strength of the taboo, Ungerer simply shot back with a facetious remark. Practically overnight, his career was ended as libraries banned his children’s books and a whole generation, including mine, grew up without exposure to this artist’s vivid imagination. He moved with his family to a remote part of Nova Scotia for a time and in 1976 to West Cork, Ireland where he lives today. Beginning in the 1990s, with the enthusiastic support of his fans, Ungerer’s popularity began to return and now many of his children’s books have been republished.

Ungerer inspired many artists including Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are (1963). His biggest accolade came in 1998 when he was awarded the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal for his “lasting contribution” as a children’s illustrator. Many of Ungerer’s manuscripts and artwork for his early children’s books can be viewed at the Children’s Literature Research Collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia. In 2007, Strasbourg—his birthplace where he still makes frequent visits—dedicated a museum to him, the Musée Tomi Ungerer/Centre international de l’illustration.

Tomi Ungerer Official Site
Saul Steinberg Foundation