Hallucination master Ivan Bilibin
January 22, 2011 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin had an eye for bold lines, vivid colors and hypnotic patterns but he also comfortable working in shades of gray, and he wasn't above making a buck. His early work illustrating fairy tales led naturally to his later engagement in the theater as a costume and set designer.

He's been mentioned around here before, but although I'm a fan of this kind of stuff, I only learned about him by stumbling across a book at our local library while waiting for Mrs. Spatula to finish a row of knitting.
(Root of the short-but-sweet Auburn pages.) And don't miss the giant head!
posted by Rat Spatula (18 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
These are beautiful! If you like this I think you might also really enjoy Kay Nielsen, who is one of my favorite fairy tale illustrators.
posted by hegemone at 10:44 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

oh thank you! I'd never heard of him. his work is goooooorgeous!!!
posted by supermedusa at 11:06 AM on January 22, 2011

The book that this illustration is drawn from was used, in the 1920s, as the basis for a set of full-room murals in a restaurant on Seattle Capitol Hill, directly across from the Harvard Exit theater. They survived at least into the 90s and I would guess remain in place. They are amazing.
posted by mwhybark at 11:35 AM on January 22, 2011

He is one of my favorite illustrators; thanks for posting this.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:43 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bilibin is one of my all time favorites.
Thank you thank you thank you!
posted by TheCoug at 11:47 AM on January 22, 2011

Bilibin at Internet Archive (original books scanned complete).
posted by stbalbach at 12:17 PM on January 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Thanks for this post! I always love finding the original source of images that have been sloshing around in my mind for years, half-remembered and unattributed. Bilibin seems to be where most of my ArtNouveauPreRaphaeliteRussianFairyTaleDefinitelyNotSoviet art memories come from.

Either way, it's very satisfying to know who was responsible for that whole genre of memories. Thanks.
posted by Quietgal at 12:23 PM on January 22, 2011

Scratch "Either way"
posted by Quietgal at 12:29 PM on January 22, 2011

As a lover of Slavic mythology and trippy illustration, he's one of my favorites! I enjoy many of the artists in the Peredvizhniki/Wanderers school that directly preceded him too.
posted by medeine at 12:49 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

A couple of years ago, I scanned a few Bilibin books from the library to make posters for my dorm room. Glad to see him here: he's great!
posted by archagon at 1:11 PM on January 22, 2011

recommended: google images, "ivan bilibin", size large. Or pretty much whoever you're looking for. Note, google doesn't find (or maybe just won't report) anywhere near all the good sources of large images. But it's a great place to start.
posted by jfuller at 2:31 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this; he's long been one of my favorites as well, and I have a few books with his illustrations.
posted by languagehat at 4:47 PM on January 22, 2011


posted by nickyskye at 5:27 PM on January 22, 2011

I had a book of fairy tales illustrated by Ivan Bilibin when I was little... The villains from Disney movies never scared me, but Bilibin's depiction of Baba Yaga? ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING. I discovered a falling-down old hut in the woods when I was eight, and the only reason I calmly walked away instead of running away screaming was because I didn't want to draw her attention if she was still hanging around.

Every bit of rationality I possessed at that age was canceled out by that illustration of Baba Yaga. :) :/
posted by lolichka at 6:40 PM on January 22, 2011

Good lord! Gorgeous!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:34 PM on January 22, 2011

I run into Bilibin art about every six months, usually on a Wikipedia adventure. Never fails to completely astound me. Terrifying, beautiful. Gets to the heart of old, weird Slavism (to steal a phrase from Greil Marcus).
posted by notsnot at 8:51 PM on January 22, 2011

Might mention an additional twist on google image searches, though you may already have thought of it (which makes you faster on the uptake than I was.) Searching on google.ru with the string Иван Билибин turns up some images not returned by google.com searching ivan bilibin. (Also turns up a lot of the same images, of course, just on .ru sites.)

P.S. the proportion of sites in the .ru domain that try funny stuff in your browser tends to be, um, somewhat elevated compared to some other domains. NoScript (free) for Firefox helps a lot, as does a host-based intrusion detection system like the one included in the Comodo free version firewall. For deeply untrusting souls, running your browser session inside a sandbox provides another layer of latex. And some (though maybe not all) drive-by exploits seem to be filtered out by going through translate.google.com, which has other advantages also (namely that non-Russophones like me may find google's flavor of Russlish easier to parse than full-on tekst na russkiĭ yazyk in Cyrillic characters.)
posted by jfuller at 11:44 AM on January 23, 2011

Pics of the Seattle dining space from the opening of Olivar in 2006.
posted by mwhybark at 3:09 PM on January 29, 2011

« Older John Hinde   |   Putting the hy in hybrid cars Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments