Friday, July 16, 2010

Iela Mari returns

My, how time flies! 
It's been almost a year since Animalarium's first post about Iela Mari
and four months since I grabbed the beautiful catalogue of her exhibition 
at the Bologna Book Fair with the intention of sharing it here.

First edition of The apple and the butterfly, 
published by Bompiani in 1960 with case and spiral binding

prototype and original illustration for The apple and the butterfly

This was the first Italian monographic exhibition dedicated to Iela Mari's works,
and the catalogue, published by Babalibri, contains the reproductions of many 
original illustrations, preparatory studies and prototypes from the artist's personal archives.
Various essays and a rare recent interview with Iela complete this precious volume,
offering new insights into the work process and very private personality of 
this highly innovative and influential but still understudied author. 


illustrations from Animali nel prato, late 1970s.

"This book doesn't tell a story in words. It tells as many stories, through pictures,as there are 
animals in a meadow. Stories of races and games, struggles and traps, colors and smells."

Animali nel prato originated from the design for a fabric for children's pillows.
This is a detail from the print reproducing the entire drawing (cm.176x95).
The book has not been reprinted and is difficult to find, even in libraries.

Prototype with case and spiral binding of Mangia che ti mangio, 1980. 
Every spread shows a predator chasing its prey, which in turn becomes a predator when you turn the page.
Giusi Quarenghi describes it in the catalogue as "a mortal Ring Around the Rosy of hunger and satiety..."

Printed spread and prototype from Mangia che ti mangio

cover and original illustrations for C'era una volta il riccio di mare

An associative chain of shapes and figures that in the end, like a circle, returns to the original idea. 

Iela Mari's last published work Il paesaggio infinito (The infinite landscape), 1988,
consists of 16 cards that can be mixed and matched to create many different sequences and stories.


  1. Magnificent, truly inspiring. Thank you for your curatorial eye and insights. There are so many European authors and Illustrators we are unfamiliar with. I will be going to the Bologna Book Fair this coming year for the first time.

  2. So gorgeous and so hard to find!I hope I'll find them soon...

  3. thanks for your comments!
    Debra, that's great, maybe we can meet at the fair for a chat and coffee...

  4. Just catching up with all your posts Laura - so much to take in and explore! I'm smitten with Mari's work, thanks for showing all this!



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