If you don't like reading extremely long books on your mobile devices, but you'd still like to have with you a selection of stimulating and inspiring titles, try the publications released by MAPP. Founded in 2011 in London by art publisher Michael Mack, antiquarian bookseller and entrepreneur John Koh, and digital designer Jean-Michel Dentand, MAPP is a digital publisher working with a series of museums, libraries, collections, curators and artists to offer its readers a wide choice of carefully selected volumes.
Illustrators, costume and fashion designers will rejoice at the news that, just a couple of days ago, MAPP released a long-lost book by Alexandre Benois, his Alphabet in Pictures.Alexandre Nikolayevich Benois was born in Saint Petersburg in 1870. An artist, art critic and historian, he became a founding member of Mir iskusstva (World of Art), an art movement and magazine together with Sergei Diaghilev and the artist Léon Bakst.
Appointed scenic director of the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, he moved to Paris in 1905, devoting from that moment on most of his time to the stage and costume designs for the Ballets Russes. Together with Léon Bakst, Benois became famous for creating the colourful costumes, sets and props for Diaghilev's famous corps de ballet. But while the former injected in his creations a certain degree of sensual and decadent orientalism, Benois seemed to be more rooted in classicism.
Alphabet in Pictures was a children's book published in Saint Petersburg in 1904 that includes the Russian alhabet in 35 full page chromolithographs. Each scene portrayed - mainly borrowed from Russian folklore, polular fairy tales or the Bible - is illustrated in vivid details and Benois fans will be able to detect between illustrations featuring Hansel and Gretel, Baba Yaga, giants, kids playing, snow princesses and swans swimming on placid lakes, his passion for the theatre and ballet.
While the letter "T" is indeed represented by a theatrical stage on which a series of rocambolesque actions takse place with actors running away from a monster peering out of an oubliette and a ballerina dancing in the background, the book includes illustrations that seem to anticipate Benois' costumes and sets for Petrushka (staged in 1911): a caricature of a Moor opens and closes the book; a conjurer (Petrushka's Charlatan?) performs his tricks in front of a group of children, while a pile of inanimate and colourful puppets and dolls fills an entire page to illustrate another letter.
Each illustration is an absolute joy and you will have to stop and carefully look at each of them for a while to spot all the details of Benois' little idyllic and fairy tale-like scenes (don't forget to check out the rich costumes donned by some of his characters).
This volume was originally released for an aristocratic audience that eventually came to its end after the 1917 Revolution, and it's great to know that someone thought about making it available again in a digital format to each and everyone of us at just £2.99.
It would be really nice now if MAPP could continue the alphabet series with something along these lines that could have an even stronger connection with fashion, what about an e-Book featuring the AlphaErté bet Suite paintings (Erté's Alphabet)?Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos
Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos