Ted van Lieshout
The Paper Museum 3
The Angel with Two Noses
Children and art – if they don’t make a connection, then it’s certainly not the fault of Ted van Lieshout. Writer, poet and illustrator wrapped into one, he has also become known in recent years as an art ambassador for children. In Papieren Museum 3 – De engel met twee neuzen, which he designed himself, he assumes the role of Director of the Paper Museum. The covers of the book are the walls of Van Lieshout’s museum, the pages are the galleries, where you can wander to your heart’s content, and get lost amongst the works of art that he has brought together with so much care.
While the walls of the previous two Paper Museums were covered with a lot of works of art involving framed words and poems, this third version concentrates solely on pictures. Van Lieshout asked fellow illustrators where they get their ideas from, because he wanted to stage an exhibition about sources of inspiration. This resulted in a surprising collection of artworks and a very original perspective on the profession of illustration. It is not, as many artists believe, Picasso who is the most important role model for Dutch and Flemish illustrators, but Matisse.
However, he is not the only significant figure. Using well-chosen examples, Van Lieshout demonstrates how artists of children’s books have drawn inspiration from the great masters. His unconventional approach – looking for similarities between children’s book illustrations and recognised works of art – means that the book is not based on a fixed chronology.
Van Lieshout strides in seven-league boots through the history of art, chatting with unbridled enthusiasm about subjects that are just as likely to be Greek vases as Théodore Géricault – just as long as there is some link to a contemporary illustrator. His anecdotes are compelling, but most importantly: they force us to take a really good look. This leads to some surprising discoveries. Hey, Max Velthuijs painted exactly the same kind of leaves as Henri Rousseau! Look, Jaap de Vries copied those wavy lines in the swimming pool from David Hockney! Ted van Lieshout ensures that art history is not a sleep-inducing school lesson, but a happy journey of discovery that involves looking and comparison, astonishment and identification, and, first and foremost, lots and lots of fun.
By Joukje Akveld