Thursday, July 29, 2010

Panic at the Village

Last night we watched the very funny and imaginative stop-motion feature Panique au village
(A village called panic is the english title). The movie was written and directed by Belgian creative duo 
Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, who also provided voiceovers for two of the main characters,
Cowboy and Horse (the other is Indian). Aubier and Patar met in art school, and have been working together
since the late 1980s. Panique au village is the spinoff of their successful tv series by same name, 
whose 20 episodes aired in Belgium between 2001 and 2003.

I loved the low-tech, low-budget, DIY feel of the animation and mad plot, which kept reminding me
of the endless adventures I had as a child with the aid of Barbies and plastic presepe figurines,
and more recent incredible stories staged by my daughters and friends using their toys
At the same time, the scenes are rich with amusing, lovingly crafted details: above you can admire
the entrance to the music school and the car of music teacher and Horse's paramour Madame Longrée.

The fast-paced story is full of crazy twists and hilarious gags, including trips to the center of the earth, 
brick stealing underwater creatures and a huge mechanical penguin guided by mad scientists.
If you enjoy out of bounds creativity, absurdist humour and childlike aesthetics, it's an exciting ride! 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Owl Tree Giveaway

To celebrate one year of Animalarium, we are giving away one of our few copies 
of the beautiful Korean edition of Sebastiano (Ranchetti)'s L'Albero Gufo (The Owl Tree)
Don't worry about the language,the book is completely wordless!

The Owl Tree, a rather mysterious symbolic journey through an existential night forest, 
is one of Sebastiano's more personal books. It was first published by Jaca Book in Italy,
where critics described it as psychedelic and remindful of Bruno Munari.
Its 64 silent, graphic, dark and elegant pages are quite unusual for the local children's publishing sector, 
and the book tends to migrates between the children's, art and design sections of bookstores.
Unfortunately, because of the language barrier, we still have no idea about how it is
doing in Korea, where it was published by Sonyunhangil - Hangilsa in 2009!

To participate in the giveway, just write a comment to this post  
in which you nominate a favorite artist(s) discovered through Animalarium.
There's time to leave comments until August 14th, then we'll draw the winner!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

First Birthday Party!

Jon Klassen - Party Animals

I want to thank everyone for one great year at Animalarium.
It has been a lot of fun to share and discover all these artworks
in the company of people who share similar interests, loves and obsessions!

From the Animal's Party by Elisabeth Brozowska, 1962
thanks to Eric Sturdevant

I can't possibly thank all the very lovely people who have helped and inspired me from the start,
but I'd like to mention at least some of the awesome fellow bloggers who have given me 
great support and encouragement in many different ways: Amy at Aqua-Velvet,

and the great image collectors at flickr who have generously allowed me to 
utilize their treasures, particularly the amazing Sandy (and her Pink Jet Pack), art.crazed

and of course all the artists who daily produce beautiful works in all media,
especially the very dear Franco Matticchio for sharing here his incredible drawings,
(many of which previously hard to find or unpublished)
and Sebastiano, my accomplice on fifteen years in love and work 
for always supporting my solitary endeavours

from Favourite Bedtime stories, 1977, thanks to Flamenconut

and everyone else who has commented,suggested, quoted, blogged, retweeted,
reposted, tumblrized, ffffound, bookmarked, networked, emailed,  
asked and answered questions, sent pictures, interviewed, favorited, complimented,
thank you and see you tomorrow for the Mystery Corean Giveaway!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Matticchio - Cat Woman

Sunday Safari - On the sea and by the shore

Lindsey CarrAn Oiled Scarlet Ibis

Like everybody, for the past weeks I've been watching anguished and heartbroken
the horrible unfolding of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.
Today's post is dedicated to all sea birds, shore birds and waders,
may they continue to thrive in spite of human greed and foolishness!

Lauren Nassef, illustration for the story Waste

Paul Bloomer, Noup of Noss, thanks to The Art Room Plant

Paul Davis illustration from AIGA Graphic Design USA: 4
Ann Wood, Winter vignette

Guy TaplinFour Curlew
thanks to The Art Room Plant

Eleanor GroschAvocet

Charles Harper, Atlantic coast, Ford Times 1961
thanks to Heather David and flickr's invaluable mid-century illustrated pool

Sebastiano Ranchetti, Pelican

Ingebjorg SmithSilver Beach Redshanks,
thanks again to The Art Room Plant!

BTW, tomorrow Animalarium turns one year old...
Remember to check in and participate 
in our first ever giveaway!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hello Pussycat

Janusz Bruchnalski, Les Felins, 1968

This summer when I'm not travelling I'd like to continue the series of posts ("Females on Friday", maybe?) 
dedicated to female animas/animals, recently started with The Ladybirds Parade and Kiss of the Spider Woman
During these hot summer nights, I feel that old/young feminine energy rising up all over the place...
Do you too? If you feel you have some interesting pictures to contribute, send me an email! 

Bogdan ZwirCrazy Cat  

Yutaka Murakami ad illustration, 1984

Be they cat women or tiger girls, I love how these heavenly creatures 
dance and prance, lay and play, lovely, powerful and tempting,
their eyes mysterious, their limbs agile and sinuous 

Erté, Letter L

De Moore, Tigra cigarettes, 1950,  thanks to Vintage Poster

Fay KuTigergirls 3

Nicoletta Ceccoli, Hide and Seek

Lizzi Charlotte Hosaeus, Cat Woman, 1930
thanks to the Tumblr Dark Silence in Suburbia

Colette Calascione, Cat Mask

Claude VerlindeDans le tiroir

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Millions of Cats

Millions of Cats is a beloved classic of American children's literature, but it is not as well known 
here in Europe. I first discovered it through the British volume Children's book covers
and decided to introduce it together with its author to Animalarium's international readership. 
Hopefully some of you who are not yet familiar with them will fall in love as I have!

Wanda (top right) with five of her siblings in 1905, 
thanks to the Minnesota Historical Society's Visual Resources Database

Wanda Gagthe eldest daughter of Bohemian immigrants, was born in New Ulm, Minnesota, in 1893 
(the same year as another favorite pioneering woman artist and children's book author, Vera Ermolayeva). 
The mother was a skilled storyteller who enjoyed telling folktales in her native German to her children. 
When Wanda was fourteen her father Anton, a well-known painter, decorator and photographer, 
died of tubercolosis. On his deathbed, he told her "What Papa has left undone, Wanda will have to finish,
a plea that she honored with extraordinary determination. Wanda vowed to become an artist, 
and even after her mother's health failed, she managed to continue her studies and raise six siblings, 
while working odd jobs and selling illustrations and greeting cards to support the family. 
She attended art schools in Saint Paul, Minneapolis and New York on scholarships. 

Wanda, who referred to herself as a gypsy, was lively, curious and way ahead of her time
In New York she found work as a commercial artist, wrote political articles, started making prints 
and became an influential member of the Greenwchich Village art community. She made friends 
with Georgia O'Keefe, was inspired by Whitman and Thoreau, and was an early proponent of 
feminism, socialism, sexual freedom and the return to nature. In the late 1910s she began 
creating books for children, but couldn't find a publisher. In 1923 Wanda had the first of many 
successful print exhibitions, and in 1928 a chance meeting with an editor of children's books 
led to the publication of her first and most famous book, Millions of Cats. 

Endpapers and frontispiece

Millions of Cats was the first children's book to introduce illustrations stretched across a double spread. 
The book, inspired by an European folk tale, was also written by Wanda, who hand-lettered the text to better
 integrate it with the pictures. The simple story tells of a lonely elderly couple who decide to get a cat. 
The old man travels in search of one, until he finds a hill "quite covered with cats". 

Unable to choose between "hundreds, thousands, millions and billions and trillions" of cats, he brings them 
all back home. When the wife points out their inability to support the legion of felines, it is left to the cats 
to decide who among them is the prettiest, which leads to an enormous catfight. In the end only a raggedy
 skinny cat is left standing. The couple take it, feed it and care for it, and in time it becomes the beautiful 
cat of their dreams. The book became an instant classic and won Newbery Honor award in 1929. 
It has sold over a million copies, never going out of print and being through 36 different impressions, 
the last (to my knowledge) by Puffin Books in 2006.

Snoopy in Lewis Gannett's Garden, 1932-33 and Siesta, 1937

In 1931 Wanda bought a rural farmstead in New Jersey, where she crafted an earthy lifestyle while 
continuing to create pen and ink drawings and prints until her death in 1946. The majority of her prints 
were litographs, but she also produced etchings, wood engravings and linocuts. 

Wanda Gag wrote and illustrated seven more original children's books, 
and illustrated and translated from the German two books of Grimm's Fairy Tales.
The covers above come from Faber Books' beautiful flickr stream. 


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