David Wiesner & The Art of Wordless Storytelling

Posted on Jan 28 by SEASONS Magazine

David Wiesner, Tuesday, pg. 1, 1991. Watercolor on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

David Wiesner, Tuesday, pg. 1, 1991. Watercolor on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

 

From January 29 to May 14, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (1130 State St.) presents David Wiesner & The Art of Wordless Storytelling. This exhibition features work from Wiesner, one of the most highly praised picture book artists in the world, and contains almost 80 original handmade watercolors from 11 of his most popular books. Of these books, three,—Tuesday, The Three Pigs, and Flotsamwon him the esteemed Caldecott Medal. Wiesner is only the second person to have own this award three times.

This exhibit recognizes Wiesner’s art as inspired by different sources, with influences by artists in graphic medium and more popularly, cartoons, graphic novels, and movies.

David Wiesner, Fish Girl, pg. 168-169, 2016. Watercolor and ink line on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

David Wiesner, Fish Girl, pg. 168-169, 2016. Watercolor and ink line on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

This event marks the first exhibit that attempts to investigate the work of the famed children’s book illustrator in an art-historical context of both the contemporary visual culture of comic books and major motion pictures, and the darker area of social critique, which was used efficaciously in the 19th century by French artist Honor Daumier and his followers.

Evidence of influence is apparent through Wiesner’s wordless storytelling. Wiesner implements both the impact of 20th century surrealists (Salvador Dal, Max Ernst and Ren Magritte) and American and European masters of the illustrated picture book (Lynd Ward, Otto Nuckel and Franz Masereel).

David Wiesner, Flotsam, pg. 19, 2006. Watercolor on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

David Wiesner, Flotsam, pg. 19, 2006. Watercolor on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

As the foundation of his best-selling picture books, this exhibition allows guests to admire Wiesner’s handmade pieces that give an overview of his successful career. By just seeing the illustrated picture books, readers are not able to see the laboring process involved in creating these watercolors. The original handmade works divulge the many layers of watercolor needed for Wiesner to create his exquisite paintings. A seeming paradoxical effect is created between the slow technique used in creating the paintings and the instantaneous production of the digitally produced pages in the picture books. This effect has also appeared in works of Magritte, Dal and Giorgio de Chirico.

David Wiesner, Mr. Wuffles!, pg. 8, 2013. Watercolor and india ink on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

David Wiesner, Mr. Wuffles!, pg. 8, 2013. Watercolor and india ink on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

Wiesner was influenced by modern film as well, incorporating aspects of classics such as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and comic books into his first graphic novel, Fish Girl, which will be released in March 2017 by Clarion Books/Houghton-Mifflin.

David Wiesner & The Art of Wordless Storytelling is a contribution to the development of both art-historical literature and visual culture. The exhibition features work from other artists of which had a considerable amount of influence on Wiesner including Masereel, Nuckel, Ward, and more.

For tickets and more information, visit www.sbma.net. 

-Kathryn Shim

 

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