“I would like to draw attention to shapes, in reaction to the image bombardment produced by television.”
Iela Mari, 1968
Enzo Mari met his future wife Iela at Brera Academy in Milan. Towards the end of the
sixties, Iela started creating children’s books, first alone, then together with her husband.
Later, while Enzo was busy at work designing toys, objects and furniture,
Iela became professor at Milan’s Istituto Europeo di Design and continued illustrating
books on her own. All her creations are wordless narrations of natural cycles and
playful transformations. Her revolutionary conceptual approach is clean and essential,
graphically striking and innovative. The following books are published in Italy
by Babalibri (I have included reference to the titles and publishers
of the original American editions when available)
Il palloncino rosso, 1967 (The Magic Balloon, S G Phillips)
Iela Mari’s first book, Il palloncino rosso, describes the metamorphosis
of a chewing gum bubble with a minimalist language made of white space,
black line drawings and simple red shapes.
In her following books, Iela Mari explores the world of nature with her innovative eye:
“… one needs to start with analysis in order to arrive at synthesis, not the other way around.
For example, one needs to first draw all the details in a leaf and then erase, erase, erase…”
L’uovo e la gallina, 1969, with Enzo Mari (The Chicken and the Egg, Pantheon Books)
“During the war, in Milan, we were hungry. I raised chicken, I know how chicks are born!
I also love looking at the growth of my green plants. The landscape doesn’t interest me.
What I enjoy, is to lay on the ground in the woods, to feel an ant climbing,
feel myself being pushed by the roots.”
La mela e la farfalla, 1970, with Enzo Mari (The Apple and the Moth, Pantheon Books)
Hopefully, this post will be followed by one on Mari's later books,
if I can get a hold of them! Some are currently published in Spain and Japan...