Antonio Saura (1930 - 1998)

Der neue Pinocchio

(The New Pinocchio)

The Adventures of Pinocchio Retold by Christine Nöstlinger
Ed.: Fondation Archives Antonio Saura, Meinier, Geneva
Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2010
300 p., 123 col. and 64 black-and-white line drawings
24.5 x 22.0 cm, clothbound, color.
Appendix with texts by the artist and the editor as well as bio-bibliographical notes and the note on Antonio Saura's dedication to his grandson Pablo Lazaro


OE: Las aventuras de Pinochio de Carlo Collodi
Galaxia Gutenberg/ Circulo de Lectores, Barcelona 1994.
The first 300 copies each contain an original color screen print

The book and its history

This edition was published twelve years after Saura's death and was compiled from the first edition published in 1994. Voted best art book in Spain in 1995, it received the Grand Art Prize of the City of Paris and the Sarajevo Freedom Prize. In terms of size and scope, the new edition seems to correspond largely to the first edition. With its 300 pages, this book remains a solitaire in our collection, not corresponding to the standard picture book format. However, it is illustrated throughout, with full-page color pictures alternating with line drawings of various sizes, creating a steady sequence of images that transports readers into a world of their own.

According to his afterword, Antonio Saura illustrated his Pinocchio edition to be understood by children. He restrains his abstract style, not oriented to representational "correctness," without betraying his signature style. The drawings are alive with dynamic outlines, scribbly linework, and casual areas of color; outlines are often drawn with a broad brush, while colorful doodles trail across the pages. In contrast to his more earthy brown/black oil or acrylic paintings, his palette here is brightly colored. Pinocchio's little red coat lights up again and again, often contrasting with the clear primary colors of yellow and blue and, of course, black.


Antonio Saura himself remarks on the diversity of his illustrations, on the one hand painterly textures and on the other the two-dimensional contour drawings. "This doubling, unusual for me, is partly related to a technical problem inherent in color, but also to the desire to incorporate graphic codes specific to the world of children, such as animated cartoons and comics."
Saura spent a long time studying the Italian literary fairy tale, first published in 1883, along with its pictorial traditions (1990-1992). Finally, he chose Christine Nöstlinger's modern text version of 1986, which abandons the pedagogy of repressive 19th-century morality in favor of a childlike, uninhibited sense of adventure and literary fantasy, opening up a whole new realm of freedom for the illustrator.
The artist creates an almost autonomous pictorial narrative that is as impetuous as it is cheerfully imaginative, modulating the verbal narrative through exaggeration and humorous poignancy. For him, this work was also a way of connecting with his own childhood. When a friend lent him her old Pinocchio edition, he remembered his own children's book and was able to conjure up the texture and format of the paper, the colors and even the smell. Saura concludes his afterword as follows: " A tribute to Collodi, certainly, but I also wanted to return splendor and depth to the muddled, foggy and indecipherable paradise of childhood."

Biographical note

Antonio Saura, born 1930 in Huesca, Spain, died 1998 in Cuenca, Spain. Internationally known as a painter and printmaker, his work has been featured in many important international exhibitions (including the Venice Biennale and Documenta) and major museums around the world.
In 1947 he began to paint and write as a self-taught artist. From 1952 onwards, he spent a lot of time in Paris and was a member of the Surrealist circle. He developed a very distinctive, gestural artistic style and found his way to a radically abstract painting. Nevertheless, his starting point always remains the human body, with faces and heads easily recognizable under numerous layers of paint in his works of the 1960s and 1970s. Since 1963 he worked time and again as an illustrator and graphic artist, and in 1977 he also began publishing texts on contemporary art.

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