The exhibition Pop-ups. The Magic of Books tells us how the three-dimensional book has changed over almost one and a half centuries. Let’s go through some of the pieces on display to find out why they were chosen to represent the evolution of the pop-up.
Small 19th-century wonders
Internationaler Circus by Lothar Meggendorfer, published by J.F. Schreiber in 1887, is a surprisingly large scenic book: it represents the arena of a circus with acrobats, clowns and dancers, around which are boxes with dozens and dozens of charmed spectators. When open, it is almost a metre and a half wide! Meggendorfer was a master of animated books, the “ancestors” of three-dimensional books, in which figures could be set in motion by means of tabs, volvelles or ribbons.
The exquisite Peeps into Fairy Land, published by Ernest Nister and E. P. Dutton in 1896, is a panorama book, in which the planes, spaced with tabs, compose a kind of theatre. Another technique widely used in the 19th century was that of floating layers, where the separate levels do not rest on a horizontal plane, as in scenic books. An example is Cosy Cot Farm, published by Raphael Tuck and Sons in 1895, whose editions often represent bucolic scenes or children’s games.
At that time, three-dimensional books were meant exclusively for children: many of these volumes, which are over a century old, have dedications to the lucky children who received them as gifts.
Original three-dimensional “revolutions”
The first “real” pop-up, however, is The “Pop-Up” Pinocchio (based on Collodi’s original story), created by paper engineer Harold Lentz and published by Blue Ribbon Books of New York in 1932. The term was registered as a trademark, and only later did it come into use to indicate three-dimensional books in general. It was enormously successful, so much so that the publisher produced a great many titles, and also collaborated with Disney.
Another beautiful pop-up on display is the carousel Alì Babà e i 40 ladroni, published by Hoepli in 1943. It was an all-Italian production. Set designer Mario Zampini and illustrator Raimondo Centurione created a new three-dimensional structure, in which the book covers can rotate completely so that all the pages can be open at the same time, with segments unfolding in which the parallel planes form perspective scenes.
Great masters and great producers
The undisputed master of pop-up art was Prague-based Vojtěch Kubašta: he was both an illustrator and a paper engineer, which is why the figures and structures in his works blend so perfectly together. He refined the multiple layers technique, which had been invented by Geraldine Clyne in the 1940s, but his most spectacular books are the so-called panascopic models. One of them is How Columbus Discovered America, dating back to 1961. With only three pages and a thickness of less than half a centimetre, Columbus’ caravel, Santa Maria, rises up from one large painting, with rigging and all.
The story goes that Kubašta’s pop-ups were very much appreciated by Waldo Hunt, called "Wally", who wanted to produce them in America. Unfortunately, it was the Cold War period, and imports from the Soviet bloc to the United States were banned. Wally then began to produce pop-ups by coordinating paper engineers, illustrators, and publishing houses. An example from that period is Andy Warhol’s Index (Book), published by Random House in 1967, in whose production Waldo Hunt involved the famous artist.
Pop-ups for everybody
In the 1980s pop-ups started dealing with an increasing number of themes: music, robots, science, nature, cinema, and celebrities. Examples of this are the book series published by National Geographic, or The Royal Family Pop-Up Book by paper engineer Vic Duppa-Whyte, which illustrates some episodes from the life of the British royal family, or the book The Human Body, by paper engineer David Pelham, which is said to have sold three million copies!
In the 2000s pop-up books came back strongly in vogue: a new generation of paper engineers discovered new mechanisms and folds that made three-dimensional books similar to paper sculptures suitable for audiences of all ages. Just think of the works of Robert Sabuda, Bruce Foster, Matthew Reinhart, and many others. For example, take a look at the spectacular DC Super Heroes. The Ultimate Pop-Up Book: on the page showing the superheroes together, the illustration rises up by almost 40 centimetres!
Alongside the opening of the new exhibition, Pop-ups. The Magic of Books, the Geiger Foundation also launched its new website, with a host of additional functions available. Take a tour!
A clear, eye-catching home page
The home page includes a large slider image that highlights the event underway by means of large, impactful pictures: by clicking on it, you are redirected to the full article.
Events & news – new section
From now on, we shall publish short texts about the Geiger Foundation’s activities as well as feature articles on our exhibitions. The initiatives section includes exhibition-related side events and other presentations for the public.
Are you looking for the images of that exhibition you saw a few years ago? Do you need a catalogue? Click on the red side tab on the right: the complete list of the Foundation’s exhibitions will open, and from there you will be able to easily access the event page you are interested in.
Full contents in the exhibition tabs
All exhibition-related materials are now on the same page, where you can find the article presenting the initiative, the photo gallery with captions, the catalogue, the press coverage and much more. Use the “Related Exhibitions” buttons and browse through past events…
All the contents about the Foundation are presented in one section that includes Hermann Geiger’s biography and a contacts page, plus an interactive map to find us more easily.
Our website contents can be easily shared on social networks by clicking on the icons at the bottom of the articles. Follow our activities on the Foundation’s social media through the links at the bottom of the page.
On Saturday 15 July the exhibition Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in Davos was opened in the presence of the curators, Annick Haldemann and Thorsten Sadowsky, Registrar and Director of the Kirchner Museum Davos, which lent most of the works on show.
The opening was also attended by Wolfgang Henze and Ingeborg Henze-Ketterer, from the Archive of E. L. Kirchner’s entire oeuvre, Wichracht/Bern, who administer the estate of the artist: «We are glad that Italy is hosting a new solo exhibition of Kirchner, after a long time», they said. «It was not conceivable, here, to stage an exhibition summarizing the entire production of this great artist, but this selection does convey the essence of Kirchner’s artistic development in the last twenty years of his life spent in Davos».
On show are oil paintings, etchings, water colours, and photographs by the artist, who was born in Aschaffenburg (Germany) in 1880 and took his own life in Davos in 1938. The focus of the exhibition is Kirchner’s years in Davos – where he had retired to regain his physical and mental health – and which are analysed through the motifs that he cherished most: landscapes, portraits, nudes, sports and rural life scenes.
The exhibition will be open until 15 October. Opening hours: from 6 to 11 pm until 10 September, and from 4 to 8 pm for the remaining period.