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Roberto Innocenti  [ Italy ]

Biography

Roberto Innocenti Portrait
© Patmos Verlagshaus

Guest 2006.

Bibliography

Aschenputtel oder Das gläserne Pantöffelchen
[Text: Charles Perrault]
Middelhauve
Köln, 1983
[Ü: Ludwig Askenazy]

Nussknacker und Mausekönig
[Text: E.T.A. Hoffmann]
Sauerländer
Düsseldorf, 1997

Das Hotel zur Sehnsucht
[Text: J. Patrick Lewis]
Sauerländer
Düsseldorf, 2002
[Ü: Hans ten Doornkaat]

Erikas Geschichte
[Text: Ruth Vander Zee]
Sauerländer
Düsseldorf, 2003
[Ü: Gabriele Haefs]

Pinocchio
[Text: Carlo Collodi]
Sauerländer
Düsseldorf, 2005
[Ü: Hubert Bausch]

Rosa Weiss
[Nacherzählt von Mirjam Pressler]
Sauerländer
Düsseldorf, 2006

Das Medaillon
[Text: Andrea Camilleri]
Kindler
Berlin, 2006
[Ü: Moshe Kahn]

Roberto Innocenti was born near Florence in 1940 and first came into contact with the world of art at the age of eleven. He began experimenting with colours and paper while working as an assistant in a specialist shop and says that, although he was never able to attend art school, from this point on he was an artist with every fibre of his being. In the late 1950's Innocenti went to Rome to work in a film animation studio, as an illustrator for a magazine and as a designer of posters. At the age of 43 he dedicated himself solely to the illustration of children's books and illustrated the French version of the Cinderella fairytale, Charles Perrault's »Cendrillon« (1983; Eng. »Cinderella«, 1983). This was the starting point of an international career which continued to set standards for the illustration of classic literature. Amongst others Innocenti has illustrated the works of E.T.A Hoffmann, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and Christophe Gallaz. The »New York Times« named him »one of the greatest illustrators of children's books in the world«.

Roberto Innocenti's domain is contemporary history as well as classic stories and fairytales. He researches, photographs, outlines and reconstructs figures, costumes, architecture and props »like an archaeologist« (Inge Sauer). His illustrations are aesthetic, visually wonderous productions – mainly watercolours – in which he reinvigorates the symbolic worth of facts and stories with an understanding of the serious, serene or mysterious. Elements of perspective and light dramaturgy borrowed from theatre and film give the pictures of his tension-rich pieces an unmistakable atmosphere and gravitas.
»The Adventures of Pinocchio« (1988), the interpretation of Carlos Collodi's classic children's book, counts as one of Roberto Innocenti's masterworks. In an affectionate and mischievous manner, he illustrates the story of the self-serving wooden rascal who must survive numerous adventures before he can become a real boy. He relocates the viewer to the Florentine region of the nineteenth century, where hatters, tinkers, washer-women, conmen, police and thugs cavort in the villages and laneways. His almost photo-like illustrations captivate through unusual perspective and scenes that call to mind Dutch genre painting, as well as through striking traces of grey and brown. With »Rose Blanche« (1985; text: Christophe Gallaz; Eng. »Rose Blanche«, 1985) and »La storia di Erika« (2003; text: Ruth Vander Zee; Eng. »Erika's Story«, 2003) Roberto Innocenti presents two touching picture books dealing with the trauma of the Holocaust, which have both courted controversy and received prizes. In »Rose Blanche« he tells the story of an astute girl who is confronted with the abhorrence of National Socialism, violence, mourning and death. Speaking of his autobiographically inspired picture book Innocenti says »I have tried to show through pictures how a child experiences war without being able to fully comprehend it«. Showing a renewed style in »L'ultima spiaggia« (2002; text: J. Patrick Lewis; Eng. »The Last Resort«, 2002) Innocenti humorously yet subtly presents a detective game about individual inspiration and his favourite figures of world literature – Stevenson's treasure seeker, Commissair Maigret or Andersen's little mermaid.

Roberto Innocenti's picture books have been published throughout the world. His illustrations have been exhibited in various cities, including Bologna, Geneva, New York and Taipei. The numerous awards which he has received for his œuvre include the Golden Apple of the Bratislava Illustrators' Show, the Premio Andersen and the Silver Medal of the Society of Illustrators in New York City. In 2006, for his illustrations of the book „Pinocchio“ by Carlo Collodi, he won the illustrator’s prize for children’s and young people’s books, a media award from EKD (the German Protestant Church). Roberto Innocenti lives near Florence.

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