Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fur-covered blog


Book Patrol is blog about book culture. The newest post looks at Margaret Wise Brown's (author of Good Night Moon) experimentations with the structural and haptic aspects of her children's books. 


The post supports my long held notion that children's books are the place in the publishing industry most willing to adopt the kinds of experimentation that take place in the field of Artist's Books. It is argued that children are more open to whimsy and delighted by unexpected reading experiences than adults. But, I'm not certain that the same argument doesn't apply in equal measure to adult book lovers. 

Of course, Oppenheim's Object, 1936 (a fur-covered cup, saucer, and spoon. Usually referred to as Fur Covered Object) was produced nearly a decade earlier and may have paved the way for Wise's more kid friendly publishing application. This Surrealist object was inspired by a conversation between Oppenheim and artists Pablo Picasso and Dora Maar at a Paris cafe. Admiring Oppenheim's fur-covered bracelet, Picasso remarked that one could cover anything with fur, to which she replied, "Even this cup and saucer." Soon after, when asked by AndrĂ© Breton, Surrealism's leader, to participate in the first Surrealist exhibition dedicated to objects, Oppenheim bought a teacup, saucer, and spoon at a department store and covered them with the fur of a Chinese gazelle. In so doing, she transformed genteel items traditionally associated with feminine decorum into sensuous, sexually punning tableware.

If this object, with adult themes, was the indirect inspiration for Wise, then doesn't it seem reasonable that the experiment could work in reverse? Couldn't the structural gymnastics applied to the publishing of children's book be applied to books with series, more adult content; and still find a broad market? 

 

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