Sunday, 31 October 2010

Dreaming of One Thousand and One Nights

In 1923, Ernst Rosenbaum (alias: Ernst Roenau) published his adaptation of "One Thousand and One Nights" (Vienna, Munk) with magnificent illustrations by Rosa Rosà . Probably around the same time the book was also published in Chicago by Julius Wisotzki.

In contrast to 19th-century orientalism which dominated most of the illustrative works on "One Thousand and One Nights" at the time, Rosà presents her fairytale interpretations in a powerfully decorative style that seems to be a bit influenced by fashion designs of the Art Déco. There is a strong interest in form and patterns, which might also derive from folk art which was a great source of inspiration in these times. The colourful lithographs even encourage associations with the even more detailed and equally fantastic works of Léon Bakst or the illustrations of the Russian artist Iwan Bilibin.

Just as Fernande Biegler, another female artist of the time, of who's biography is equally little known, Rosà found her own and unique way to illustrate and re-count the well-known Arabian fairy tales. Her "stylish", nearly two-dimensional images present a colourful world full of wonders which mirrors the character of the fairy tales perfectly. It is no doubt a pity, that there is nothing else of her work known nowadays.