ISSN: 20520204
First published in 2014
2 issues per volume
Volume 4 Issue 2
Cover Date: November 2017
Miffy: A pedagogical avant-garde rabbit; the influence of Karel Appel’s imagery on Dick Bruna’s picturebooks
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Authors:  Christiaan Nauwelaerts 
DOI: 10.1386/jill.4.2.237_1

applied arts,avant-garde,children’s drawings,Dick Bruna,Karel Appel,liberal arts,Miffy,picturebook

This article considers how Dick Bruna (1927–2017) successfully combined the artistic influences of Matisse (1869–1954), Léger (1881–1955) and the avant-garde Cobra movement with the pedagogic demands for picturebooks, in his illustrations for the Miffy picturebooks. In general, avant-garde art movements only influence picturebooks with great delay and in a significantly weakened form. However, the Miffy picturebooks, constitute a remarkable exception to this rule. The artists that were part of the Cobra movement, Constant (1920–2005) and Karel Appel (1921–2006) in particular, valued the imagery of the child’s drawing. Appel took this further, by explicitly integrating infantile imagery into his work and seeing childhood as an artistic way of life worth striving for. Bruna, for his part, valued the direct simplicity of childish imagery and applied it to his designs for book covers and posters. When Dick Bruna designed the second and definitive version of Miffy, in early 1960, he was referencing Appel’s work and at the same time taking into account the pedagogic demands of picturebooks. The result is a ground-breaking imagery with a significant influence on the evolution of picturebooks, providing Bruna with international renown.
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