Tuesday, May 8, 2018

This Is M. Sasek

Eight-and-a-half years ago, I posted about a children's book illustrator named Miroslav Sasek, who created books about cities around the world. His work is in the style now called cartoon modern.

A few weeks ago, I came upon a book about Sasek and his work, called This is M. Sasek (a reference to his book titles, which usually were phrases like This Is New York, This Is Paris, and so on.) From it I learned he worked for Radio Free Europe on their Czech-language broadcasts before he began the books in the 1950s, that he lived until 1980, and that it's a bit mysterious what he was doing during World War II (since he was born in 1916, he would have been the perfect age for military service then, but it's not mentioned).

It's fun to look for traces of the artists who influenced him (I see clear echoes of Picasso and Saul Steinberg, though it's hard to know if the latter influence was from Sasek to Steinberg or the other way around).

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the book.

This Is Paris was the first book in the series (which wasn't intended as a series). These two images show just how many ways you can render an automobile in cartoon modern style, and also what a blight cars — and particularly parking — are on a beautiful city.

Sasek's next book was This Is London. One cool thing shown is this study for a park scene:

Accompanied by the final art:

This Is New York came out not too long after that, which is the book I wrote about earlier. Here's an  illustration of Macy's that wasn't used in the book:

Several years and a number of books later in the series, he took on Hong Kong:

I love the use of colors in this cover...

...and the asymmetry and non-stereotyped depictions of these Hong Kong school children (each with a different airline flight bag).

If you were wondering what Sasek himself looked like, here he is in 1961:

Thanks to Martin Salisbury, Olga Cerna, and Pavel Ryska for getting this book published. Salisbury is an illustrator and professor of illustration at the Cambridge School of Art; Cerna is a librarian and author; and Ryska is an artist and historian of animation.

1 comment:

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for this artist’s work — I just added his name to the Books for Talia list.