A Threefold Hybridity. Picturebook art fantasies as life writing

Ingrid van der Heyden, Helma van Lierop


Picturebook art fantasies about the life and work of famous artists are usually studied from an art education perspective, but they are also interesting from the point of view of life writing, because of their hybridity on three levels: the combination of fact and fiction, the synergy between text and images and their attractiveness for both child and adult readers. In this article two picturebooks are examined on this threefold hybridity, one about Wassily Kandinsky and one about Piet Mondrian. Both books are part of a series of picturebooks, initiated by the Municipal Museum in The Hague and Dutch children’s book publisher Leopold. It is argued that the postmodern experimentation with the form which is characteristic of life narratives for adults, can also be observed in children’s literature. The biographies of Kandinsky and Mondrian make use of novelistic techniques and the interplay between words and images to tell about the life and work of these two visual artists. The many allusions in text and images to the art and the poetics of the two painters show that these picturebooks are a challenging form of life writing for both adults and children.




Picturebooks; art fantasies; multimodality; dual audience

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5463/ejlw.3.119


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Copyright (c) 2014 Ingrid van der Heyden, Helma van Lierop

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European Journal of Life Writing - ISSN 1876-8156 - is an open access initiative supported by University of Groningen Library