Feb 14 2012: Illustrations by Gisela Gottschlich from Die Schonsten Grimms Marchen (Germany, 1960s)

It’s no surprise these days to find monographs on the work of nineteenth and early twentieth century illustrators like John Tenniel, Beatrix Potter, Gustave Dore and Edmund Dulac, but for later practioners the process of recognition seems slow. A case in point might be the book represented here, on which the name of the illustrator is printed in such vanishingly tiny print that it took several attempts to track down the information in the slim volume before the words ‘Bilder von Gisela Gottschlich’ emerged from the blue skies on the book’s back cover, squeezed in just above the ISBN number and publication date (1979, though it seems on the stylistic evidence that the volume is almost certainly recycling illustrations made in the very distinctive manner of the mid to late 1960s). Like the subject of yesterday’s post, the American illustrator Rhoda Campbell Chase, Gisela Gottschlich’s publications seem to be on sale secondhand all over the internet, but information on her life and work is elusive.

Yet what’s so strong in these images is their sense of a period set to one side of itself, every detail revealing an origin in the post-war European context that produced innumerable German and Czech fairytale films, a worldwide vogue for Yugoslav painters like Ivan Generalic and Ivan Rabuzin and the very distinctive animation styles of the Oliver Postgate/Peter Firmin partnership and John Ryan. I suppose it might be called ‘pop-psychedelic kitsch modernism’ or something of the kind, a revisiting of Tenniel, Dulac and Rackham by way of Lotte Reiniger, Edward Bawden and Walt Disney, with all the colours and sense of optimism greatly intestified. Gottschlich’s images for Grimm seem very much in this vein, none of the darkness allowed to shadow the candy-coloured surface. This style seems to have been ubiquitous in its day and Gottschlich seems as finely whimsical an exponent of it as any I’ve seen. If anyone reading this has information it would be fascinating to know more about her.

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