Curator: Krasimir Iliev
The period between the two World Wars in Bulgaria was remarkable for the boom in the publication of children’s books and magazines. A great number of artists, such as Aleksandar Bozhinov, Ilia Beshkov, Dechko Uzunov, Georgi Mashev, Iliya Petrov, etc., created illustrations which today extend our knowledge of their art. They reveal interesting connections between the native and the universal, the decorative and the realistic both in their way of thinking and the artistic expression. This development of the illustration is only slightly considered and studied by the Bulgarian theory of art.
This exhibition is one of the first attempts for a more comprehensive independent rationalisation of this phenomenon in the history of Bulgarian art. It includes books that have become classics such as Golden Book for Our Children and Alphabet for the Young (1921), illustrated by Aleksandar Bozhinov, in which the full of preciseness national ornamentation is combined with influences from the Secession art. The publications in the collection include also King Fatty by Elin Pelin (1925), Mecho and Annie by Angel Karaliychev (1934), The Jolly Kin by Yordan Stubel (1926 and 1929), The Little House in the Woods by Dora Gabe (1934), etc., with illustrations by Ilia Beshkov, one of the most prolific artists of that time.
Also tempted by the children’s books was artist Stoyan Venev. His sarcasm transferred from the satirical painting to the illustration. Troublemaker (The Adventures of Gosho) by Pelin Velkov (1938) and Gold-diggers (The Adventures of Gosho) by Tsveti Ivanov (1938) were a wonderful find for Venev’s caustic humour. Gosho is a boy with a cigarette in his mouth, who gets drunk and into all sorts of mischief, who matched the unruly character of the artist himself.
Indisputable masterpieces of the Bulgarian children’s books illustrations were also the covers of The Swan Queen by Alexander Pushkin and Unborn Maiden by Ran Bosilek (1933), illustrated by Georgi Atanasov. The masterpiece examples include also The Winged Hero by Angel Karaliychev (1927), illustrated with refined minimalism by Dechko Uzunov, as well as many others.
The collection shown within the exhibition also includes copies of children’s magazines such as Svetulka (Firefly) (1904-1947), Detska Radost (Children’s Joy) (1910-1947), Detski Zhivot (Children’s Life) (1930-1947) and Prozorche (A Tiny Window), set up in 1939.