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Michael Osterweil
Art 1959 - 2006
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"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass"
 
Lewis Carroll. 40 Watercolor portraits 20" x 14" 1986 (scroll down)
 

FOREWORD

Book illustrations in Victorian times were principally in black and white, and those by John Tenniel for the original editions of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871) are magnificent examples of that age. Lewis Carroll was aware of the importance of colour to his readers, and chose the bright red cloth of the early editions with this in mind. When coloured illustrations began to appear on the scene Carroll was quick to acknowledge this new process, and ordered a special edition of The Nursery Alice (1889) to be produced with twenty coloured enlargements from Tenniel’s illustrations. The sheets, printed by Edmund Evans, turned out to be “far too bright and gaudy” for Carroll’s taste, and he gave instructions that the edition should be totally reprinted. The inferior sheets were not wasted. Carroll consigned them to an American edition, describing them as probably not gaudy enough for that audience!

The colour printing process has improved in tip twentieth century. Most Alice editions are now sold with full-colour pictures. The coloured illustrations of Arthw Rackbazn (1907). Charles Robinson (1907), Bessie Pease (iutmann (1908). Mabel Lucie Attwell (1910), and Charles Folkard (1929) are well-known, and many are still available in current Alice editions. A recent survey carried out by the publishers of children’s books revealed that four times as many books are sold with coloured illustrations than those in black and white. This was the incentive which resulted in Macmillan and Company, the original publishers of the A/ice books, to have all the Tenniel illustrations fully coloured by an artist for a new edition.

A number of major artists have been inspired to produce a series of paintings and prints based on the Alice story. These include Salvador Dali (1969), Peter Blake (1970), and more recently Peter Weevers (1989) and Michael Osterweil (1995). The latter, whose work is celebrated in the current exhibition, stand out from previous artists for a number of reasons. These pictures are a series of portraits of the main protagonists from the Alice stories. When Carroll searched for illustrators, he looked for an ability to draw in fine detail, but he particularly wanted artists who could draw both beautiful figures and grotesques. His own images of his characters were usually in either one of these modes. Osterweil shows an ability to match with Carroll’s vision; he draws with beauty (for example. The Lily), and he draws with gritty distorted realism (for example, The Knave). Many of Osterweil’s characterizations are wistful, dream-like, and of indeterminate gender, fitting the ambiguity evident in Carroll’s books.

Michael Osterweil’s watet-colours are beautifully painted. His fascination for headgear and hats is a personal attribution which adds a further dimension to the characters. This is a new and original vision of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, remarkable for the fact that it follows in a long tradition of work by numerous artists and illustrators throughout the last century.

Edward Wakeling

Editor of Lewis Carroll Diaries

And former Chairman of the Lewis Carroll Society

May 1996.

 
 
 

FOREWORD TO THE EXHIBITION CATALOG

Whenever a new Alice book comes out, I am asked, “Do we really need another representation of Alice?” The answer is a resounding unqualified yes. As long as Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice books strike a chord with the creative soul of an artist it is worth a look. As a major collector of illustrated Alices, I am always interested in new interpretations. Since “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking—class and What Alice Found There” were written they have been an inspiration to hundreds of talented individuals to transfer the stories into different media, including illustration, art, theater, film, cartoon, music, dance, etc. As a student of these phenomena, I am delighted to see the continuation of Carroll’s appeal to the artistic mind.

Mr. Osterweil’s portraits of the Alice characters are indeed a unique angle for interpretation. Although Alice has been tackled by artists around the World, I am unaware of another artist who has taken this perspective.

Salvador Dali (Spain) gave us the surreal Alice, Charles Blackman (Australia) took the Modern Art view of distorted images, Walter Anderson’s ( Alice was Picasso-esque, and Peter Weavers (UK) produced a beautiful classical Alice. Now, Michael Osterweil presents us with the Alice family album and a mere striking group of character studies is unlikely to be found.

Osterweil’s work is an interesting combination of elements. The format and style of the portraits suggest to me characters playing Alice on an Elizabethan stage. This is a carryover from his previous work based on Shakespeare and perhaps hints at a latent desire to be a Broadway costume designer. The at once strange and familiar characters are adorned with the most elaborate clothing imaginable. Osterweil has used the artist’s looking—glass to portray a book as it might have looked in a time long before it was written. This is quite Carrollian. His use of vibrant colors suggests to me ancient Persian enamels as do the integrated color framing. The fact that he is able to achieve this look with watercolors is remarkable. It amazes me that no matter how many interpretations of Alice I see, one that is different in so many ways as this can still come along. I think that this is largely due to the fantastical nature of the book combined with characters that are a child’s eye view of the Universe. Prepare to see Alice and company through the eyes of the child in the artist.

Joel Birenbaum

President, Lewis Carroll Society of North America

 
 
 

MICHAEL OSTERWEIL’S VISION OF ALICE

Michael Osterweil is an established, internationally exhibited artist who resides in New York City. As an observer as well a participant in the international art scene, he has experienced much of what this exciting, ever changing world has to offer.

Now, as a mature artist, Michael Osterweil has focused his vision of the future. But this is not the future represented by the continuously shifting art world trends and fashions, a world Osterweil has conic to regard as superficial and increasingly less relevant to his own values. Instead, the artist has chosen to focus his vision beyond the trends of the moment in favor of a future that he knows to be genuine and eternal-- the children of the world.

1:01- the past several years the artist has devoted his considerable skill and energies to a remarkable series of paintings derived from the story of “Alice in Wonderland”. “Alice” is recognized by people far and wide as an archetypal image of childhood, and her world is seen as tile embodiment of its timeless magic and mystery.

Because of the special nature of this undertaking, Osterweil developed specific techniques tailored to achieving the unique qualities of his personal vision. Working in watercolors, a medium of sublime delicacy, Osterweil developed an ingenious process for enhancing the depth and intensity of the tones. Four and a half years of total dedication resulted in a body of work that combines the subtlety of watercolors with the prismatic tonal qualities of unprecedented richness.

In his quest to bring us “Alice’s” world, the artist dealt with each character as he would an actual person, the subject of a portrait, an encounter in which ii would be necessary to reveal something of the soul, the essence of the persona. The result of this quest is a series of forty unique works of art, each revealing a vital aspect of “Alice’s” world -- the mystery and whimsy, the color and characters that comprise its quintessential magic.

“We have created and we live in a minimal world and I am continually fighting against it - because as a result human beings become minimal. Children without emotion, without sensitivity, without passion towards life grow up to be adults of the same or even less. Through “Alice” , I have given children the richness of color - colors which live in harmony not discord. A world in which color provokes emotions, sensitivity, and harmony.

In “Alice” adults have something in common with children - they look back into it and children look forward into it and “Alice” brings them together...”

MICHAEL OSTERWEIL

Born in Germany 1932

1932 moved to Israel (which was then Palestine)

1954 moved to Europe and lived in England, France, Italy, Germany.

1976 went to Venezuela

1977 moved to the United States of America

One Man show’s since 1959 in:

London, Paris, Hamburg, Caracas, New York

 
 
 
 
 
Alice's 40 original portraits
These 40 watercolor portrait’s are based on “ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through
the looking glass.” By Lewis Carroll . The Watercolor’s are 20”x 14 “ .1986.
 
The Duchess

 

The Knave

 

The carpenter

 

The Fawn

 

The White Knight

 

The Executioner

 

The Lily

 

The Red knight

 

The Aged Man

 

The Messenger

 

Card of Seven

 

The Dodo

 

The Gryphon

 

The Fish Footman

 

The Frog Footman

 

Card of Ten

 

The Cook

 

The Pigeon

 

The Mock Turtle

 

Tweedle De & Tweedle Dumb

 

The Red King

 

The Unicorn

 

The Caterpillar

 

Alice

 

The Mad Hatter

 

The White Queen

 

The Jabberwock

 

The King of Hearts

 

The Queen of Hearts

 

Humpty Dumpty

 

The Mouse

 

The Red Queen

 

The Sheep

 

The March Hare

 

The Crow

 

The White King

 

The White Rabbit

 

The Walrus

 

The Cheshire Cat

 

   
  The Lion

 

 
 

 

Portraits

 
Anthony, The Dodo & The Mouse Lisa, The Rabbit Joe, the Duchess & Company
Watercolor 65" x 26"

 

Watercolor 65" x 26"

 

Watercolor 65" x 26"

 

The Dodo in His Outfit A.57:    The Crow & The Duchess The Bishop & Lisa
Watercolor 65" x 26"

 

Watercolor 65" x 26"

 

Watercolor 65" x 26"

 

Angelica & The Cheshire Cat The King of Hearts & White Rabbit The White Rabbit In New Outfit
Watercolor 65" x 26"

 

Watercolor 60" x 26"

 

Watercolor 65" x 26"

 

Mad Hatter I Mad Hatter II The Crow II
Watercolor 42" x 26"

 

Watercolor 42" x 26"

 

Watercolor 42" x 26"

 

 

 

 

Original Multiple Watercolors

 
The Mad Hatter The Mad Hatter Humpty Dumpty
Watercolor 41" x 26"  For sale Watercolor 41" x 26" Watercolor 41" x 26"  For sale
  Courtesy of David Lewis  
     
The White Rabbit Humpty Dumpty The Mad Hatter
1 of 15 watercolors  ,   size 42” x26” 1 of 19 watercolors , size 42” x 26 1 of 15 watercolors size 42" x 26"
Reference : ALIWAT2  For sale Reference : ALIWAT3  For sale Reference : ALIWAT1  For sale
     
   
   The White Rabbit  
  wax crayon watercolor, size 30” x 22”  
  Reference : ALIWAT16  For sale  
     
     
     
     

© Michael Osterweil 2006