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The keyword “international” leads to another consid­

eration. People tend to think that pictures and their

language are universal and that they would easily

be intelligible across international borders. And so it

is all the more surprising to see the diverse reception

of illustrated books within the respective national

book markets. A picture book that is successful in

France, Brazil or Australia can go unnoticed in Ger­

many, and vice versa. It is a huge challenge for an

illustrated book to be a success in multiple countries

at the same time, and very difficult to predict. Dif­

fering aesthetic approaches and diverse illustrative

and narrative traditions form at least part of the

explanation here, which is why the exhibition seeks

to point out the unique qualities of current German

picture book illustrators – together with the hope

of also demonstrating the commonalities between

individual illustrators and the artistic trends in

other countries. There is one thing that unites all

the artists exhibited here: the desire to communi­

cate, to find an original pictorial language that,

ideally, speaks out beyond the limitations of par­

ticular languages and international borders.

In the initial stages of the selection process for this

exhibition, experts in illustration and children’s

books were asked for their recommendations. The

illustrators being showcased to the international

audience had to work mainly in Germany and to

have published at least two titles with German­

speaking publishers. They needed to demonstrate

significant creative potential in addition to their

individual artistic voices. The more than 200 nomin­

ated names were grouped by us according to their

artistic outlooks, stylistic orientation and genre,

and more names were added where necessary.

Then, in the course of extremely lively discussions,

artists were chosen from the resulting groups that

Bird’s-eye Views.

insiGhts into illustration

in Germany today

What is the state of the German illustration scene

today? That is the key question being considered

by the jury for Germany’s guest nation appearance

at the 53rd Fiera del Libro per Ragazzi in Bologna.

Our main objective is to reflect trends in the Ger­

man picture book scene and to showcase the diver­

sity of the current illustration landscape. We would

also like to introduce some less wellknown names

to the international editors here at the book fair.

We are aiming to whet visitors’ appetites for our

illustrative art – hence the invitation to pay closer

attention or “Look!”, the motto for our guest nation

appearance devised by the Hamburg illustrator

Ole Könnecke.

Regardless of these clear aims, we are still faced

with the fundamental difficulty encountered by any

jury: a selection can only ever be a selection. The

exhibition space imposes its own boundaries, so that

in spite of our efforts to present a representative

cross section, we have been obliged to leave out a lot

of work that we would like to have included. Origin­

al works by 30 very different artists can be seen

here, along with a comprehensive collection of books.

The collection contains books from illustrators

whose works are featured in the exhibition as well

as the latest publications by a further 55 German

illustrators who are well regarded both at home and

abroad, many of who embody the tradition that has

helped the younger generation to find their own

voices. We have devoted a separate publication to the

library, with its array of current titles from both

younger and more established artists. With this total

of 85 illustrators, we are presenting the internation­

al audience in Bologna with a vibrant cross section

of the German picture book scene.