Alice's adventures in Wonderland
Year:
2002
Author:
Lewis Carroll
1832 to 1898
Illustrator:
John Tenniel
Artist:
Didier Mutel
1971

The tale Alice’s adventures in Wonderland written by Lewis Carroll has already appeared in many different ways.

Lewis Carroll, Didier Mutel, Alice’s adventures in Wonderland (2002, page 185)
Page 185

Lewis Carroll, Didier Mutel, Alice’s adventures in Wonderland (2002, page 185)

The artist Didier Mutel has also made his own version of this story. The result: a colourful and extraordinary edition.

A colourful edition of a classic

In 2002 an edition of Lewis Carroll came out: Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. The book has differently coloured pages and was scanned from the original publication with illustrations by John Tenniel. Both the text and the illustrations were enlarged (blown up to 36x26 cm) and transferred to copperplates before being printed off in blue.

The paper was processed beforehand, each page having been separately printed by means of monotyping. To that end, Mutel had prepared a whole set of different copperplates, the ‘motion’ of the pigments on the various plates being clearly visible. There are blue and green pages, but also pink, yellow, orange, brown and purple ones.

Lewis Carroll, Didier Mutel, Alice’s adventures in Wonderland (2002, page 7)
Page 7

Lewis Carroll, Didier Mutel, Alice’s adventures in Wonderland (2002, page 7)

Lewis Carroll, Didier Mutel, Alice’s adventures in Wonderland (2002, page 46)
Page 46

Lewis Carroll, Didier Mutel, Alice’s adventures in Wonderland (2002, page 46)

Lewis Carroll, Didier Mutel, Alice’s adventures in Wonderland (2002, page 165)
Page 165

Lewis Carroll, Didier Mutel, Alice’s adventures in Wonderland (2002, page 165)

Mutel's touch of horror

It was Mutel himself who created the book’s 42 illustrations. They, too, were printed as copper plate engravings but then in shades to match the paper. Each one was shrouded behind a thin page of Japanese paper so that Mutel’s own illustrations initially remained invisible but those of Tenniel could be seen. Opposite the tiny Tenniel pictures Mutel placed etchings that covered the entire page. These are no sweet children’s book illustrations. Mutel’s edition of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland belongs to the modern ‘scary tale’ genre of nightmarish fairy tales in which children’s stories are presented as horror stories. In Mutel’s portrayal of Alice she is a scary full-breasted creature with spiky hair and Dracula teeth. The book itself, both the cover and the pages, is like a silky-soft skin.

The whole production process sometimes made it necessary for certain pages to pass through the printing press eight times. In total, 50 copies were produced. The sequel, Through the looking-glass, also underwent the same complex series of processes.

Read more: Through the looking-glass.

Bibliographical description:

Description: Alice's adventures in wonderland / by Lewis Carroll ; [with 42 ill. after John Tenniel combined with original copper engravings by Didier Mutel]. - Paris : Didier Mutel, 2002. – 192 p., [42] bl. pl. : ill. ; 38 cm.
Printer: Didier Mutel (Paris)
Edition: 50 copies
This copy: Number 24/40 of 50 on Arches and Sekishu-Shi
Note: Uncut; with cassette; signed by the artist
Shelf-mark: KW KOOPM E 97

References:

  • Marie Akar, ‘Didier Mutel. Graveur et artiste du livre’, in: Art & métiers du livre, 285 (juillet-août 2011), pp. 40-51.
  • Paul van Capelleveen, 'Didier Mutel', in: Artists & others. The imaginative French book in the 21st century. Koopman Collection, National Library of the Netherlands. Nijmegen, Vantilt Publishers, 2016, p. 70-77.
  • Alan Chatham de Bolivar, ‘Le cas étrange du Dr. Jekyll et de Mr. Hyde’, in: Art & métiers du livre, 189 (janvier-février 1995), pp. 16-17.
  • Johanna Drucker, ‘The art of the written image’, in: Johanna Drucker, Figuring the word. essays on books, writing, and visual poetics. New York City, Granary Books, 1998, pp. 57-75.
  • Didier Mutel, ‘A mythical animal encountered in unknown lands’, in: The artist book in a global world. A workshop in Poestenkill, New York, August 2002. (Wulf D. von Lucius, Gunnar A. Kaldewey, Eds.). Stuttgart, Lucius & Lucius, 2003, pp. 19-32.
  • Timothy Young, ‘If it is beautiful, it is useful: a few words for Didier Mutel and his unheeded manifesto’, in: Didier Mutel, Acide brut manifesto. Berkeley, CA., Codex Foundation, 2011, pp. 3-7.
  • Timothy Young, ‘Meet Captain Acid’, [published 11 October 2014 on website: ‘The Design Observer Group’].

Lewis Carroll, Didier Mutel, *Alice's adventures in Wonderland* (2002): coloured pages

Lewis Carroll, Didier Mutel, Alice's adventures in Wonderland (2002)