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Archive for book review (puppet/art books)

Puppets out in the world of art

I’ve found puppets in education, obviously, and puppets in mental health and I’m currently focused on trying to find artists who build puppets. It seems blindingly obvious to me that puppets are these incredible works of 3d art/craft and yet no one seems to have noticed.

So at the moment, my artist list runs to four.

There’s a photo somewhere of Frida Kahlo performing marionettes for a child. I haven;t been able to find it yet, but it was mentioned in a book I’m reading (The Puppet Show by Ingrid Schaffner and Carin Kuoni. I’ll review it once I’ve finished reading it). Interestingly enough if you do a search of “frida kahlo puppet” you find heaps of people out there that have made puppets or dolls of Kahlo. Again it’s a example of fans making dolls and puppets out of the things they adore. Weird and worth looking into it further… But I digress.

IN that same book it talks about one of Jackson Pollack’s paintings has a figure cut out of it, he made a marionette and then cut a covering for it out of the painting. You can see a copy here.

There’s also Paul Klee, who made around 50 hand puppets for his son Felix over about a 9 year period, also Klee never thought of them as art and never included them in any catalog of his work. There’s a photo from the exhibition here and you can see the self portrait puppet Klee made here.

And I went to the Mirka Mora exhibition at Heide which had a couple of newspaper articles included and one mentioned her love of dolls and puppets. It’s very hard to find anything else about it on the net though. Her love of dolls is mentioned as fact but I can’t find interviews with her or anything talking about either. But then I find this site saying “For the 1988 Bicentennial festivities at the Sydney opera House, she designed 85 five-foot-high puppets on plywood, all painted with oil for the opera, “Bennelong,” about the Aboriginal man of the same name who befriended Captain Phillip” . I can’t find any photos of them though. However I did find this gorgeous photo of her clutching dolls she made in her studio with more behind her. I suspect since I can’t find anything else that she didn’t make a lot of puppets as her work, but nice to know she did make some.

That’s my list so far. But I look forward to adding to it further. Love the detective work!


Book review – Paul Klee Hand Puppets

The artist Paul Klee made around 50 hand puppets for his son, Felix, between 1916 to 1925. He started by making a couple of the traditional German Kasperl (Punch and Judy) puppets after Felix saw them in a show in a market and wanted his own. Over the years Paul made other characters based on Felix’s suggestions. The puppets themselves were created mainly out of scraps of material and plaster of paris, however Klee also used electric sockets, bone, buttons and anything else he could find that fit his vision.

Klee never considered these puppets as part of his serious work, in all catalogs he never listed them (although he did agonize over this decision).

Paul Klee Hand Puppets (ISBN 3 7757 1740 4) is filled with 86 colour photographs of the remaining 30 puppets as well as numerous black and white photographs and a number of essays about the puppets including one from Felix and one from Felix’s son, Aljoscha. The detail and level of art that has been harnessed to create these fragile puppets is extraordinary and this book captures them beautifully.

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