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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Edmund Dulac’s Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales

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Edmund Dulac’s illustrated edition of Charles Perrault’s fairy tales was published in 1910, and like John Austen’s version this is another one I hadn’t seen before. The adaptation by Arthur Quiller-Couch drops many of the less familiar stories such as Riquet of the Tuft and The Ridiculous Wishes to leave only Sleeping Beauty, Blue Beard, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast. A century later, three of those stories are now overly familiar thanks to Disney and co. while the wife-murdering antics of Blue Beard render him irredeemable for children’s entertainment.

The most notable thing about Dulac’s typically excellent illustrations is the degree to which he pushes the style and decor to his beloved Middle East. There’s no reason why many of these stories shouldn’t be situated outside Europe when some of them have very distant Middle Eastern origins but this is unusual for Perrault where the tendency is to use settings based on the Europe of the author’s own time. Browse the rest of the book here or download it here.

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Harry Clarke’s Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault

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After posting John Austen’s Perrault illustrations I intended to follow-up with other versions but work has been non-stop lately so it’s taken most of this month to do so. Harry Clarke’s edition of Perrault was published in 1922, and while it’s not exactly unfamiliar its one of his illustrated editions that gets overshadowed by the grotesque masterpieces of Faust and Edgar Allan Poe. This is Clarke employing his most delicate Beardsley-like style, the only hint of anything unwholesome being the animated black pudding that fixes itself to a woman’s nose in The Ridiculous Wishes. Bluebeard, by contrast, seems a delightful fellow despite his unfortunate wife-killing propensities.

I’ve only included the colour plates here but the copy at the Internet Archive contains many full-page black-and-white drawings along with vignettes. The plate showing Cinderella and the Prince has been stolen from their edition so I’ve added a scan from my own copy of the book.

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Album de la décoration

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Plates from a selection of art nouveau-styled prints for the use of artists and craftsmen. There’s more in this incomplete Flickr set; a little searching turns up further examples but the Flickr ones are the highest quality. The Four Seasons were featured here several years ago in a post about illustrator Patten Wilson. The bat-obsessed Robert de Montesquiou would no doubt have approved of the unusual conjunction of a chauve-souris with the favourite fowl of the fin de siècle.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
The Grammar of Ornament revisited
Dekorative Vorbilder
Combinaisons Ornementales
Charles J Strong’s Book of Designs
Styles of Ornament
The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones

 


Cosmic art

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Cosmic Synchromy (1914) by Morgan Russell.

The cosmic in art, and a partial selection at that. Venture too far and you find yourself in a syrupy New Age firmament of pastel galaxies, unicorns and space dolphins. Beware.

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Cosmic Composition (1919) by Paul Klee.

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Cosmic Map (1930) by Bruno Munari.

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Lament Over the Cosmic Egg (1947) by Ernst Fuchs.

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The Kosmische Tarot

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Revelation of the weekend has been the discovery that there are two sets of (for want of a better term) Krautrock Tarot cards. The first, Walter Wegmüller’s Zigeuner Tarot, is familiar for being included in the Tarot concept album released on the Kosmischen Kuriere label in 1973. The album was credited to Wegmüller but he only advised on the symbolism and acts as MC/narrator. Wegmüller’s cards are detailed and somewhat original, but their drawing is from the enthusiasm-over-technique school which goes against the grain of the rest of the album design and the accomplishment of the musicians.

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Dreamlab (1975) by Mythos. Design by Peter Geitner.

As noted a few days ago, the designer of the Tarot album was Peter Geitner working under the direction of a pair of very hands-on label bosses, Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser and Gille Lettmann. The story of Kaiser’s rise and fall has been recounted in some detail over the years (see here and here). Given the colourful saga, and the cast of notable musicians, writers and artists, I’m surprised to have seen no mention of the second Tarot set that Peter Geitner designed and illustrated in 1975 while the Kosmische Musik empire was imploding. One illustration (The Lovers) was even used as cover art for the Dreamlab album by Mythos.

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Card back for the Sternenmädchen’s Wahrsagespiel.

Sternenmädchen’s Wahrsagespiel (Star Girl’s Fortune Telling Game) is a specialised set of the Major Arcana presented as a spin-off from Gille Lettmann’s Sternenmädchen persona as featured on the Gilles Zeitschiff album; the back of the 22 cards features the photo of Gille from the album cover. I’ve said that Geitner illustrated the cards but some of the drawings may have originated as sketches by Gille Lettmann; information is scant but I’ve seen mention of her having been a textile or fashion designer. What’s most striking to me about these designs is how psychedelic they all are, more so than any of the Kosmische Musik album covers even though they maintain the cosmic themes of the record label. Many of those involved with the Kosmische empire were taking LSD at the time so this isn’t very surprising but psychedelia of this intensity was an outmoded thing by the mid-70s. Also of interest is the renaming of the cards which push the attributions away from medieval tradition and into the cosmos. I’ve not been able to find examples of all 22 designs but a list of the cards follows, together with examples of variable quality. The set was printed by AGM Müller but has never been reissued so it now commands high prices. (Many thanks to Jeff for drawing my attention to these!)

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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin