June 25, 2009

Forgotten Illustrator - Jiri Trnka 1

This post now resides on my other site 50 Watts:


  1. Amazing, another great post, thanks.

    I wonder whether you've seen any of Yuri Norstein's animations? He animates his wife's drawings, many of which resemble the kind of things you collect. Often called the greatest Russian animator, his Tale of Tales is justly-acclaimed. He was working on a Gogol adaptation for years until funds ran out. Haven't looked recently to see whether it's been continued.

  2. You continue to find outstanding artists and images. A year ago I was researching the television show Long Ago and Far away, used to run on PBS, James Earl Jones was the host, and I found a clip from the short animation Janko Raven, which I believe is a Russian folktale.
    Long Story short, the style reminded me of Trnka's, I wondered if they were the same. I looked further and realized I'd seen his film The Hand, which I wouldnt have connected to these illustrations.
    Also, yes indeed these prints are incredible.

  3. I had a copy of 'Fireflies' when I was a kid. Now I'm going to have to see if I can find it. Thanks, these illustrations are wonderful.

  4. Jiri Trnka is a Czech legend - nay, god. It really astonishes me that the whole world does not love and adore him. Thankyou for highlighting him!

  5. These are incredible! Thank you fo posting them!!!

  6. I have a copy of Favorite tales from Grimm & Andersen illustrated by Jiri Trnka (can somebody tell me how to pronounce that last name, I have been pronouncing it as Trinka to some of my friends), and the illustrations are mostly brilliant, apart from a very few that remind me of too cute big eye art. Thanks for posting on him

  7. My parents have our copy of Trnka's Hauff's Fairytales somewhere about, which I assume we picked up in Prague. I haven't seen these others. I'd like to know a good source for the films, since the local libraries didn't have them when I taught the Czech Modernism class and I'm hoping to teach it again next spring.

    For Matthew: Czech pronunciation is tricky. It's not terrible to say Trinka, but if you can roll the R enough, don't add the I. The R in Jiří is like the R in Dvořák--not an impossible feat for the English speaker (although try to roll the R there too).

  8. Thank you for the comments.

    John, Norstein is on my must-see list. I think woolgathersome turned me on to him.

    Burger, thanks for that link.

    Sam, I'm jealous that you got to ogle Fireflies as a kid.

    Karla & Matthew, I can't roll an "r" at all, so I settle for "Trinka."

    Karla, I hadn't realized the dvds of the puppet movies were discontinued (going for big bucks on Amazon). I've been spoiled by always living near a TLA Video in Philly.

    On the link I gave, Michael Sporno talks about how he had to rent Trnka's movies from the NYPL on 16mm (and of course the film was falling apart). That was the only place you could get them in the 70s.

  9. i used to love this hans c andersen collection when i was a kid - death visiting the king (?) and the prince floating in the water were some of my favorite images. i will have to go back to the old house and see if i've still got that copy.
    your blog is absolutely wonderful - i am so amazed by all that is there, how thorough your knowledge.
    thank you for visiting my flickr page. in turn you've gained a new big fan.

    lark (flyawhile)

  10. Lark, thanks for your kinds words!


  11. I have tried in the past to find excellent illustrations for Hans Christian Anderson stories, so thank you very much. I'm amazed by the color palettes. You have found so many beautiful pictures.

  12. I did not know about his illustration work until recently. I am familiar with his animated film though. Interesting to search for his puppet features in the drawings.
    Ie in "Pernikova chaloupka" (ginger bread?) puppets are really closed to his books illustrations.
    great post as usual...

  13. Trnka is amazing. One of my favourite books when I was a kid was Garden, a book he both illustrated and wrote.
    Totally insane stuff, a mysterious garden with a whale in a pool, who passes time reading magazines and four elephants who act out a theatre play once.
    Much recommended, though I'm not sure if it ever came out in english.
    Trnka deserves more attention than he gets, that's for sure - are his movies even avaiable on the internet (in english, I mean)? That would be worth correcting if not . . .

  14. Most wonderfull art. Beautiful transparences. Slavish artists seem to be enourmously gifted. See also Alphonse Mucha. I'm bookmarking.

  15. I have a Hans Christian Anderson's fairy Tales illustrated by Jiri trnka, 1969 edition, Hamlyn publishing group. I was trying to determine it's value.

  16. I have not forgotten Jiri Trnka!!! In fact I was elated to see that the random post I clicked on bore that name, as I recently saw "The Hand" for the first time in my slavish animation obsession. I had no idea he was also an illustrator! These are beautiful images, thank you so much for sharing them.

  17. Just discovered your wonderful post when I was searching for information on Trnka.

    I have the Hamlyn Hans Christian Andersen Fairy tales, and just remembered how beautiful & disturbing the illustrations are. I think it has shaped my ideas of beauty, have loved that book since I got for my 2nd Christmas.


  18. Thankyou for the lovely images. I adored the Hans Christian Anderson book that my grandparents gave me around my 9th Christmas, the lovely illustrations by Trnka shaped my ideas and my artistic development. I too loved 'death sitting on the bed' ('the nightingale') and the man and woman in the sky (him beating her, very dark!!) I was overjoyed to bump into room after room of the originals of this art by Trnka from my childhood by chance, some years ago now, - its in the national museum of Prague! Where I was happy to buy postcards of some of the images! My nieces have my original book, which had a fab white material cover with a groovy silhouette of a kind of hanging tree with a heart in it, on the front. loved it!! Thanks, Jelila, Bali