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Fairy Tales and Fables: Illustration and Storytelling in Art

101A

The Cleveland Museum of Art

  • Date Saturday, May 04, 2024 - Sunday, September 08, 2024
  • Register Now
The Cleveland Museum of Art

Discover the cultural gem of University Circle at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA). Immerse yourself in a rich tapestry of artistic history and innovation. Established in 1913, the museum has been a cornerstone of our vibrant community for over... more

Industrialization transformed all aspects of book production in the 19th century, from the manufacture of paper and ink to the printing and distribution of finished volumes. The process of illustrating books was no exception. Propelled by the demands of new urban markets, including London, Paris, and New York, printing techniques such as lithography, wood engraving, and photomechanical processes were developed and popularized, allowing printers to reproduce artists’ designs faster and more accurately than ever before. As a result, illustration proliferated, filling the pages of books, magazines, and periodicals consumed around the world. This illustration boom served as an employment and training opportunity for new artists, from William Blake in the late 18th century to Arthur Rackham and Kate Greenaway decades later. It was also used by established artists, such as Edouard Manet, Pablo Picasso, and Marc Chagall, to reach wider audiences.

This exhibition features more than 50 rarely seen artworks related to book illustration from the museum’s holdings and local collections. Included are preparatory sketches, finished drawings and watercolors, printing blocks, limited edition prints, and published books created between 1750 and 1950. These objects show how artists from Jean-Baptiste Oudry to Aubrey Beardsley approached the challenges and opportunities of illustration, navigating the commercial needs of the publishing industry while developing their artistic voices.

Using both traditional and innovative techniques, these illustrators engaged with and questioned the established imagery related to stories as they addressed new audiences, from sophisticated collectors interested in the latest artistic movements to middle-class parents trying to entice their children to read. The groundbreaking works in the exhibition, some still recognizable and beloved today—influenced generations of artists and readers to come.

A free printed family guide is available in the exhibition.

Photo: Don Quixote . . . in his Blind and Rash Endeavors, 1919. Edmund Dulac (British, 1882–1953), Hodder and Stoughton (London, 1923-). 1956.726

Fairy Tales and Fables: Illustration and Storytelling in Art

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