Opening-pictures (18.9.2006)



     The imagination sources of Albín Brunovský, the main representative of fancy realism of the second half of 20th century, come out in his childhood. ”My strongest memories are connected with the evenings. My mother and grandmother were keen on speaking about the witches. The best time to speak about them was the evening. They mentioned a lot of details and stories. Some time they pronounced even the name of some witch …” Though the imagination should have been typical for every one artist, for A. Brunovský the fancy was his aiming creative program. He could use it in the best way in his illustration of books. He illustrated children magazines Ohník and Zornička during his studies. This brought him to the cooperation with the publish house Mladé Letá and a close contact with poets and writers. His inclination to illustration of books for children and youth (46 books from 140) was logical opening of his career and codified by his activity as a head of the Department of graphic art and book illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava (1967-1990).

     From the point of view of existing avant-garde principles ”to be original for every price”, was his course not easy. The critics criticized Brunovský’s literal inspirations with the words, that he ”supports his imaginative world by the literature”. Brunovský never illustrated the books word of word, but he interpreted them free and the illustrations could be used as individual works. The artist came to this philosophy thanks to the close co-operation and friendship with the poets of Trnava’s group (Ľubomír Feldek, Ján Stacho, Jozef Mihalkovič, Ján Ondruš). These poets assigned not only to the connection of different kinds of art works, for example the art translation and literature for children and youth, but the vision directed to the razing of the differences between the literature for children and adults, in their programme manifest, published in the magazine Mladá tvorba No. 4, 1958. The participation on the competition of children concertina book in 1957 was the key moment of Brunovský’s illustration work. The competition won Ján Stacho with the concertina book ”The Chocolate Fairy-tale”. The text was difficult to understand for the children’s readers and Brunovský illustrated them under the recommendation of Ľ. Feldek, so that the story was easier for understanding. Literary work was enriched with the autonomous creative aspect, which was not only just illustration of the story, but it evolved this story. This experiment had a great importance to the development of the illustration, because it gave to the artist the possibility of free interpretation of the text.

     The Brunovský’s first illustrations of the children’s book are in the mind of the traditional ”trnka’s illustration”. For the children’s reader it was easily identified stylised shapes, as in the illustration of fairy-tale by M. Válek, ”Magic Under the Table” (1959). The next Brunovský’s illustration creation for children and youth became independent from this formal dependence. Brunovský applied his manuscript, typical with brilliant graphics lineation and mannerisitcal deformed figures, used in his free graphic creation, in the fairy-tales by V. Krupa ”Ibis and the Moon” (1961) the first time. This book was gratified with the Prize of Fraňo Kráľ. Even if the prevalent part of his illustration work was the creations made of graphics techniques, the books illustrated with the drawing (pen, pencil, ink) or paint techniques (water-colour, tempera) take very important place. That is why that he had the possibility in the illustration of fairy-tales to try new resources of expression and techniques of paintings, especially the combination of abstract natural gardens and realistic figural motives. It was like this for example with the illustration of the fairy tale of H.CH. Andersen: ”Little Seamaid” (1965), which was carried in soft blue-green colour. It was before the cycle of monumental paintings for the hotel Bôrik in 1969-1974.

     In the first half of 70-ties a new creative expression was enforced in his creation, characteristic with the realistic even photographic figuration of the figures with fancy elements, so called fancy realism. Brunovský started to cooperate with another member of Trnava’s group – Ľubomír Feldek right in the middle of 70-ties, for example he illustrated the ”Blue Book of Fairy-tales” (1974). This book was awarder not only with the Price of publishing-house Mladé letá for the ”excellent realisation of the literally, creative and graphic part”, but it obtained in Athens the award – Honourable chart of H. CH. Andersen in 1976. Feldek, when he wrote the Blue Book of Fairy-tales, used the bearing idea of the manifest of Trnava’s group from 1958, which enforced the cancellation of the difference between the literature for children and for adults. The basic lines of Feldek’s creation, which we can apply to Brunovský too, was fantastic, absurdity, contact with the world of animals, humour and the reconstruction of his outlived children’s experience. It is considerable, that some motives, used in illustration of ”Blue Book of Fairy-tales”, became subjects of more graphic cycles. Brunovský shaped unearthly gardens and airy castles for the illustration of the fairy tale Madamme d’Aulnoy ”Peacoks King” (1978). This fancy motives were typical for his latter graphics, likewise deep and clamorous colour, characteristic for the cycle of paintings for Slovak parliament 1993-1997.

     Brunovský’s illustration of the literature for children and youth can be considered as a creative experiment, which had impact on his free creation not only on graphic, but on the painting too. There can be followed the tendency to enrich the literally pattern with autonomous, creative expression which is not strictly conected to the text on the one hand, and on the other hand there is the aim to abolish the difference between the illustration of the book for children and literature for adults and to abolish the difference between the usefull creation represented with the illustration and free art as graphic and painting are.

Mgr. Martin Vančo, PhD.

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