With this first of only two picture books the young art student Paula Schmidt attracted a great deal of attention. It was shortlisted for the German Youth Literature Prize and once again sparked the debate about what a picture book should be. The striking painterly pictures, which cover large areas of the book's pages, do not at all correspond to the usual ideas of what is appropriate for young children. The fact that the book was published despite its unconventional approach owes a great deal to the risk-taking commitment of the publisher, Gertraud Middelhauve, who was always on the lookout for art off the beaten track for her publishing house. After all, with the 1991 edition, Middelhauve ventured a new print run of 6000 copies, an unusually high number for a picture book in Germany.
The book is a true example of an artist's book, where all the elements are mutually dependent and originate exclusively from the painter's artistic concept. The large-format pictures go transcend the traditional framework and general ideas of illustrating a fairy tale. The autonomous pictorial narrative contrasts the dark magic motif of the fairy tale with the all-embracing love of a young couple and thus lends the pictures and text an extraordinary, emotional radiance.
With two exceptions, the artist always takes the double-page spread as her starting point, using hand-stamped lines of lettering to create a link between the verbal and the visual. Relatively large letters seem to dance on imaginary lines, echoing the motif of moving brushstrokes. Strong black contour lines dominate many of the dark-colored images, contrasted by fluid-looking areas of color.
Paula Schmidt, born in Mainz in 1954, lives as a painter and graphic artist in Berlin.
She studied at the Berlin University of the Arts, among others with Jürgen Spohn. After her second picture book,"Hans mein Igel", a Grimm fairy tale with the text version by Sarah Kirsch, she turned to free painting and graphic design. She can look back on a large number of both solo and group exhibitions.
Link to her official website.