Friday, February 14, 2014

Pop-Ups from Prague -- an Eye-Popping Exhibit

As a child I dabbled in designing pop-up creations with construction paper--primarily rudimentary books and curious city-scapes. A star architect was born! (And resided in my cosmically themed "Star City") But eventually that fizzled, though the fascination with the pop-up itself never left, and why should it? The tangible depth given to illustrations, rising from the very medium of the book itself--just minutely crafted paper!--can be mesmerizing. That's why I found this recent article in the New York Times on an exhibit of a Czech artist's pop-up books and artwork so captivating. It is (not so) simply a demonstration of art and engineering intermingled -- the architecture of artwork.

The animated, movable book had started for an adult audience, but shifted gears to appeal more to children during the 18th century (as is the history of much of "children's literature"). The featured artist, Vojtech Kubasta, was a Czech architect, artist, and children's book illustrator who revitalized the pop-up book movement in Europe in the mid twentieth century. I found it particularly interesting that:
Kubasta produced his complex, tightly integrated scenes with a minimalist’s touch. “What’s astounding about Kubasta, as opposed to many pop-up artists today working with multiple layers of paper, is that he achieved his effects using a single piece of paper,” Mr. Sabuda said. “That is the real magic of Kubasta. Look at one of his pop-ups from the side, and it looks like a staircase. The positive space is missing from the background, because it has been cut out, but you don’t notice it. The simplicity of it, from a paper engineer’s point of view, is simply amazing.”
 How that artwork integrates with the storytelling itself would be a worthy point of examination. If you are in New York any time until March 15th, you can see the gallery of his work at the Grolier Club:   JANUARY 23-MARCH 15, 2014: SECOND FLOOR GALLERY EXHIBITION, “Pop-Ups from Prague: A Centennial Celebration of the Graphic Artistry of Vojtech Kubašta (1914–1992) from the Collection of Ellen G. K. Rubin.” Open to the public free of charge Monday-Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm.

On a similar note, this The Little Prince Pop-up is also worth checking out. I'm sure it would even make a nifty Valentine's Day present if you're so inclined...

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful exhibit. Agree, very captivating. Thank you for sharing.