Thursday, February 16, 2012

Center Paige: Le Petit Chaperon Rouge

Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood) was created by the legendary illustrator, Warja Lavater. The book is accordion bound between maroon linen covered boards. It was created in 1965 & is executed in original color lithography. The first page features a key in French, German, English & Japanese that explains the symbols in the book. The red dot represents Little Red Riding Hood, the black dot represents the wolf, etc., and that is the only text in the book. The symbols tell the story.

Presenting a story with symbols makes the storytelling universal. Even if one doesn't speak the four languages in the key, if they know the story of Little Red Riding Hood then they would understand the book. The method makes for an artistic & dynamic recreation, particularly during the part of the story when the woodsman kills the wolf; the wolf explodes like lava shooting out of a volcano. The book can be unfolded & stretched out & viewed like one piece of art.

The book is an interesting study in semiotics & symbols. We, as a culture, know the story of Little Red Riding Hood & we see the symbols in the book & by elimination & combination, can flesh out the narrative. The symbols allow interpretation, giving the reader the chance to create their own dialogue & motivation.

Lavater created many books like this about fairy tales & there are a number of them here at the Center. These books were sold at gift shops in museums, like the Louvre, & they allowed people to have a little pieces of art in their hands for about $15. These books may have inspired many future art aficionados & collectors.

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