Modernismens bilder : Den moderna bilderboken i Norden
Sammanfattning: This doctoral thesis is based on a survey of an extensive corpus of Nordic picture books and illustrated children’s books from mainly the 1940’s and 1950’s. It discusses different aspects of the position of the child, children’s culture and children’s literature in the works of the young generation of artists during this era. The common denominator is a search for a new language and new images. Picture books were used to describe modern childhood, but they were also believed to be instruments for moulding the child. Innovative pedagogical theories were one of the preconditions for the change in picture book aesthetics, but since picture book illustrations belong to a tradition of visual arts as well, the break with the past involved a renegotiation of how pictures were constructed. Motif-wise, picture books show optimism and confidence in the new technologies through a general affirmation of speed and movement, modern means of transportation, and technical innovations. However, an opposite tendency is evident as well. A naïve style and influences from non-European art were other manifestations of modernity, possibly also a reaction against it. Thus, pragmatic attitudes to picture books exist side by side with contrary opinions, which are in line with the anti-authoritarian sentiments of the Nordic post-war era and the ambition to find new images or a new language through surrealistic experiments or the uncanny. The young generation of artists considered the picture book to be an alterative medium, a potential site for stylistic experiments free from the demands of adult literature or art. Just like modernist literature and paintings explore the material and conceptual qualities of the artwork, the materiality of the picture book is put in focus stylistically and thematically. The authors and illustrators explore the physical, visual and conceptual qualities of the picture book, the artistic uses of images and the book medium, the concepts of book and literature.
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