Thursday, July 8, 2010

Attilio & Tolstoy

Attilio Cassinelli was born in Genova, where he now lives after spending years in Milan, where he studied painting and advertising. His career as an illustrator for children began when he started to draw puppets and rug animals while working for a toy company. These drawings became widely recognized for their originality, and a publisher commissioned him to create a series of dummies that were at first considered "strange" and rejected. Attilio then self-produced a book titled "The house upon a tree", which was first introduced at the Bologna Book Fair in 1965, then in Frankfurt. 

The owl and the hare

In 1967 his editorial works finally began garnering significant interest. The largest Florentine publisher, Giunti, wanted a new series of distinctive and high quality books for young children, and went on to publish 12 of Cassinelli's volumes. Since then, Attilio has never stopped creating, writing and illustrating stories. His books have been translated in many languages, and his bold, essential drawings are prized by Japanese collectors.

Animali protagonisti, published by Giunti in 1978, is the rather unusual matching of 
Attilio's humorous and very modern illustrations with a series of short moralizing animal tales
taken from Leo Tolstoy's lecture books for the children at his libertarian school in Jasnaja Poljana.

The crane and the stork

The mosquito and the lion

The rook and the pigeons

The elephant

The illustrations and text are clearly aimed at the youth of two very different 
times and societies, and Attilio's stylized comedic creatures seem to try their best 
at making palatable to 1970s urban Italian children the sometimes somber and 
often violent stories inspired by wildlife behavior and peasant life in Tsarist Russia.

The hare and the dog

The hen and her chicks

The milk cow

The heron, the fish and the crab

A recent moleskine by Attilio

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