Bruno Munari (1907 - 1998)

nella notte buia

In dunkler Nacht
(in the darkness of the night)
Transl. from Italian into German by Rut Foehn
Baden/Switzerland: Lars Müller, 1996
[60] fol., color. papers with brush drawings mainly in blue, green, and black, cut-outs; minimal text
23.5 x 16.5 cm, pictorial cardboard covers

Reprint: Mantua: Maurizio Corraini, 1996

OE: Milan: Muggiani editore, 1956

The book and its history

"This book is the consequence of experience in ‘Libri illeggibiliÄ: books without words but with abstract images that change when a page is turned, ‘like a series of stills from a film’."( Munari's Books, p. 88)
The book is composed of three different kinds of papers: a first section with black cardboard and blue printing, transparent paper in the middle section printed in green and black, and a third section similar to brown wrapping paper with numerous punched-out shapes. In the beginning, the blue painted cat roams through the nocturnal city, which is "illuminated" by a small circular cut-out on the black cardboard. Then this little firefly goes to sleep because daylight comes. At dusk, numerous insects appear, printed in green on the transparent paper. The third, earth-coloured part leads into the depths of a cave. At the exit of the cave the reader is greeted by the night and the question whether the fireflies have already lit their lanterns.
There is little text in this book and plenty of room for the readers' own ideas. Munari's concept of developing a story with the materiality of the paper and few, sparse hints of text takes the readers into an open, poetic world.

Biographical note

Bruno Munari, born in Milan in 1907, dies there in 1998. The painter, graphic designer, object artist, and theorist is one of the most influential artists and designers in Italy. He attended the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan and participated in a group exhibition of the Italian Futurists as early as 1927. In the 1930s, he turned his attention to three-dimensional structures and objects, overcoming the traditional definition of sculpture. His works focus on access to and perception of the visual world, now known as visual communication. Between 1939 and 1945 he worked as a graphic designer for the Mondadori publishing house and as art director of the magazine "Tempo". In 1948 he and others founded the group Movimento Arte Concreto (MAC) and created a series of Libri Illeggibile (Illegible Books), which, without text and conceived as objects, were first exhibited in 1950. Munari's interest in a purely visual language (including the tactile and material dimension of papers, of formats and the effect of colours) is also reflected in his picture books published after 1945. They immediately aroused great interest and were first exhibited at the New York Public Library in 1952.

Books for children take up a large part of Munari's work and remained a lifelong passion. He was interested in the possibilities of a new visual language in children's books, which tells stories with pictures and symbols, with the colour effect and materiality of paper and encourages readers to actively engage with the book and communicate. In addition to his work as an industrial designer, commercial artist, and book author and illustrator, Munari published theoretical writings on design and visual communication and led experimental workshops for children. 




Giorgio Maffei, Munari’s Books

Mantua: Corraini Edizioni 2009, engl. Edition

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