Chichibio and the Crane

Chichibio and the Crane 1
Chichibio and the Crane, by Giovanni Boccacio. Adapted and illustrated by Lele Luzzati. An Astor Book, Ivan Obolensky Inc., NY. 1961.

Wonderful little children's book featuring illustrations by Emanuele (Lele) Luzzati. Here's what it says about the artist on the back French flap of the dust jacket:

Emanuele (Lele) Luzzati, one of the most versatile and active graphic artists of post-war Italy, was born in Genoa in 1921 and graduated from the School of Fine and Applied Arts in Lausanne in 1945. Since then he has worked with an inexhaustable [sic] freshness and fantasy in many fields, including stage and costume designing for all the important Italian lyric and prose theatres – La Scala, the Venice Festival, the Florence Maggio Musicale, the Rome Opera, etc. As a ceramicist he won first prize in 1955 at the International Ceramic Sow in Cannes. As an industrial designer and decorator he won commissions from companies all over the world. He is responsible for some of the décors of the new Italian liner Leonardo Da Vinci. He has recently completed his first animated cartoon. This is his first book for children.

NY animator Michael Sporn has plenty of information about Luzzati on his "Splog". Look through the category of Luzzati & Gianini. Luzzati often teamed up with Giulio Gianini on various animated films and theatrical performances.

What I love about Luzzati's work is that it's very expressionistic - the stocky characters depicted in scribbles and ink blots evoke emotion even through their somewhat limited poses. The emotions come out through the medium and materials used. In some ways Luzzati's work is the antithesis of all the perfectly rendered characters and scenes painted in the Little Golden Books and schoolbook readers (Dick & Jane, for instance) mass produced around the same time. He was the UPA to Dick & Jane's Disney.

Lele Luzzati died just two years ago, in 2007. He was 85.


Lele Luzzati's official site.
Lele Luzzati on YouTube. (I highly recommend checking out his animated films. Wonderful stuff.)
Obituary in The Guardian.

Click on each image to view larger:

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I really dig this spread. Love the use of negative space to depict the table there.

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Even with his black & white illustrations (the book is half color, half b&w), we can get a sense of color through Luzzati's expressionistic brushwork and lines.

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And finally, the endpapers. Love the pen and ink characters up against that pattern.