By Rebecca Ballenger, Associate Director, Worlds of Words Center
The Grimm Brothers’ collection “Children’s and Household Tales” inspired visual images in illustrations that left their indelible mark on the memory of successive generations. For the first time in the U.S., the traveling exhibition “The Colourful World Beyond the Seven Hills” invites people to experience or re-experience this tradition of folktale illustration from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Posters of illustrations from the book collections of the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany, are now available for viewing in the Worlds of Words Center of Global Literacies and Literatures of the UArizona College of Education.
“This exhibit reveals a nuance of storytelling that shaped children’s imaginations across Europe and the world. People who see it will gain a deeper appreciation for the unique elements that distinguish Grimms’ folktales from other well-known fairy tales, particularly where illustration is concerned,” says Kathy Short, director of Worlds of Words and Regents Professor in the UArizona College of Education.
The chronological retrospective of around 75 printed illustrations presents seven decades of German, Austrian and Swiss artistic traditions as well as discontinuities in illustration. Visitors will notice the unfolding of artistic styles and pictorial conceptions over the decades. The post-World-War-II publications include the art of Hans Fischer and Felix Hoffmann, two of Switzerland’s most internationally successful illustrators. Additionally, canonized fairy-tale editions by Werner Klemke, Lilo Fromm, Lieselotte Schwarz and Janosch can be compared to pioneering visual interpretations from the 1990s and early 2000s by Lisbeth Zwerger, Binette Schroeder and Susanne Janssen.
“Exploring the distinctive Germanic illustrations in this exhibit alongside the additional materials provided allows for the juxtaposition of different approaches to fairy tales,” says Short. “For example, traditional French fairy tales typically present courtly elegance and romance in contrast to these Grimm illustrations that present a folk art-inspired aesthetic with intricate details, vibrant colors and a strong connection to nature and ordinary people’s lives.”
“The Colourful World Beyond the Seven Hills” offers a unique lens for viewing fairy tales and a deeper appreciation of the enchanting folklore that has shaped children’s imaginations across Europe. The exhibit is a captivating journey into storytelling that transcends borders and resonates with readers of all ages.
The Worlds of Words Center is the first location in the U.S. to receive “The Colorful World Beyond the Seven Hills.” To enhance the visitor experience, the center supplements the exhibit with versions of Grimms’ folktales from a variety of global cultures and hands-on activities. It will be on display in Worlds of Words through May 10, 2024. The collection is free to visit and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays-Fridays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays (excluding holidays and closures). For more information or to schedule a field trip or guided tour, contact email@example.com.
“The Colorful World Beyond the Seven Hills” was conceived by the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany. For more information on this exhibit, contact Maria Luise Weber at firstname.lastname@example.org. More about this exhibition can be found at https://www.ijb.de/en/exhibitions/travelling-exhibitions/single/the-colourful-world-beyond-the-seven-hills. Information on IYL can be accessed at https://www.ijb.de/en/about-us/the-international-youth-library.