In the summer of 1864, Alice Liddell (Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for Alice in Wonderland) and her two sisters, Lorina (who inspired the Lory) and Edith (who inspired the Eaglet), posed for up to 10 hours a day while the distinguished English artist, Sir William Blake Richmond, created one of his most famous paintings, called The Sisters. The painting of the three Liddell sisters set against the background of the Great Orme, Llandudno’s famous mountain, is one of the highlights of the Tate Liverpool’s Alice in Wonderland exhibition. Sir William Blake Richmond painted the portraits of the most prominent people of the day. The Sisters, well received by the art critics of the day, was regarded by Richmond as a milestone in his career. Sir William had this to say about Alice Liddell:
“Little Alice, to whose pretty face and lovely coloring no reproduction can do justice, is seen on the right in profile, peering at the big volume on her sister’s lap.” [continue reading...]
Back in Issue 83 of the Knight Letter we mentioned the incredible underwater photographs of Elena Kalis, but I wonder how many of you have actually had a chance to see them? Elena’s images are copyrighted but she is happy for people to share them on blogs like this. Three of my favorites are below and you can find many more on her website. The series is called “Alice in Waterland” and the model is Elena’s daughter Alexandra, who seems to be uncommonly good at opening her eyes underwater.
You can purchase the images as a calendar from Red Bubble.
When we are told something is “Alice in Wonderland inspired,” we all know it can mean many things. In the case of restaurants, for example, it may simply mean that the china doesn’t match. In the case of tennis dresses it can mean anything at all. Spotting the Alice in the “Alice-inspired” can sometimes be a tea-time riddle in itself.
Take the new WordPress website theme called Alice designed by Raygun (single site license $25) – what’s in the name? The design feels neatly combed and dressed, much like our very proper Victorian friend, and the sample color-scheme could definitely be described as “tea party” (with an emphasis on “cupcakes”*). The prominence of gallery and slide-show features in the demo shows that thought has been given to the proper balancing of conversation and pictures – very important, as we know – and Alice is surely an appropriate source of inspiration whenever anything needs to be both “flexible-width” and “responsive,” as the tag line highlights. But is the overall effect “Alice”? Who’s to say? The Caterpillar would probably have an opinion.
Alice WordPress theme by Raygun
A clearer case is made by Lith, a new typeface by Stefan Huebsch. Whenever we see the bold pairing of teapots and rabbit faces we know we are either in the inspirational realm of Alice in Wonderland or Beatrix Potter, but the addition of a single chess piece swings the dial. To be true, the Alice muse at work is strangely furry, and almost certainly mediated by Tim Burton, nevertheless Lith is a typeface that will say “Alice,” whatever else it might be saying at the time.
Lith, Copyright Typocalypse
*Not very Victorian, I’ll admit, but very Alice Moderne.
The perfect Christmas present—if only it existed! This beautiful tea chest was designed by Neha Hattangdi, a student at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She was asked to create a product line inspired by a literary author and the Lewis Carroll Mad Tea Collection was the result.
The wooden box contains three loose-leaf teas, reusable tea-bags, a tea strainer, and a bar of extra dark chocolate.
For more pictures of the imaginary collection go to The Dieline, the foremost blog for packaging design industry. Other great designs by Hattangdi can be found on her own website.
The short article contains no shocking revelations from the family vault, (except, perhaps, his admission, “As a child I never read Alice,“) but it is interesting to see what the family is up to these days. Do you think Lewis Carroll would have liked one of these armchairs for his rooms in Christ Church? It is upholstered in Hugh St. Clair’s own fabric, “Large Oval Flamingo.”
Rounding off our coverage of the Tate Liverpool’s Alice in Wonderland exhibition, here’s a video interview with co-curator Christop Schulz that gives some tantalizing glimpses of the artwork on display.
Yesterday, chief art critic at the UK Telegraph newspaper, Richard Dorment, gave the exhibition a three star review (“by no means all the work in the show is terrible . . .”), nevertheless, we still wish Liverpool was a little easier to get to on public transit (from California). For the rest of this month we will focus on Alice news and events more accessible to folks in the New World, we promise.
The catalog for the Tate Liverpool’s Alice in Wonderland exhibition is now for sale on the Tate’s website. Edited by Gavin Delahunty, head of exhibitions and displays at Tate Liverpool, and Christoph Schulz, curator of the exhibition, it reproduces the art of the exhibition in 120 color illustrations. Also included are critical essays by Dame Gillian Beer, Alberto Manguel, and Edward Wakeling, and a new fairy tale by Carol Mavor.
Want to see a lot of the great Alice art all in one place, from Carroll’s drawings to Dalí? Art and Illustrations of Alice make up a new exhibit at the Tate Liverpool, called Alice in Wonderland. Marina Warner has a preview of it in The Guardian:
It’s perhaps surprising that an art gallery, rather than a library, is holding a huge survey exhibition about Alice, but then Carroll’s creation has been and still is the inspiration of artists, photographers, theatrical designers, animators, film-makers. The new Tate Liverpool show explores this territory, from the author’s own rarely seen manuscript illustrations and marvellously evocative biographical materials (Carroll’s perceptive and often lyrical photographs, works of art by his pre-Raphaelite friends) to the Surrealists, for whom Alice became a cherished myth. The Surrealist movement is represented by some of the most potent works in the exhibition: Salvador Dalí’s illustrated edition of Alice, and the finest painting in Dorothea Tanning’s oeuvre, the eerie Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, with sunflowers bursting colossal tentacles around the little girl with her hair on end in spikes of flame. The Surrealist legacy is still very fertile, in the context of a growing return to myth, fairytale and romanticism. Alice is the prototype of wise child and naive innocent – as seen in the vision not only of such artists as Peter Blake and Graham Ovenden, but of their successors in disquiet, Annelies Štrba and Alice Anderson, practitioners of the contemporary uncanny who give a new feminist twist to the heroine. Alice has grown older and more knowing than her original model, and turned into the receptacle of erotic dreams, a femme enfant with whom women artists strongly identify: the knowledge you are Alice as strong as the longing for her.
Dorothea Tanning's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
This is quasi-related, but if you haven’t seen Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, Adrien Brody does an amazing Salvador Dalí:
If you went to google.com on Friday, you probably noticed a girl in an Alice-blue dress doodling on their logo. Their daily Google doodle honored classic stylish Disney artist Mary Blair, on her 100th birthday. (Google often replaces its logo on their home page with topical art spelling the name Google.) From the L.A. Times blog Nation Now:
Mary Blair in her home studio. Credit: Courtesy of the nieces of Mary Blair (LA Times, Nation Now.)
Mary Blair, honored Friday with a Google Doodle, is the woman to thank for the Disneyland boat ride It’s a Small World.
Blair’s doodle coincides with a Los Angeles tribute to the longtime Disney artist. Thursday night, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted “Mary Blair’s World of Color — A Centennial Tribute” to celebrate the woman, born a century ago, who made a place for herself among Disney’s famous founding animators, the Nine Old Men.
The Los Angeles Times’ Susan King, a writer and expert on classic Hollywood, reported Monday on the tribute and says Blair is best known for her contributions to the 1950 animated “Cinderella,” 1951′s “Alice in Wonderland” and 1953′s “Peter Pan” — as well as the aforementioned design for It’s a Small World.