Edited by Caitlin Condell, Assistant Curator of Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design
Illustrated by Magali An Berthon
Discover hidden monsters and awaken serpents, chimeras, dragons, and gargoyles in this coloring book inspired by grotesque ornament prints from the 16th and 17th centuries. Animals become alternately ferocious or docile as you color in these delicate designs from the imaginative minds of artists working in the Age of Exploration.
The late-15th-century discovery of ancient Roman murals inspired Renaissance artists and designers, who disseminated their grotesque motifs through drawings, prints, and patterns in architecture, metalwork, textiles, and ceramics. Suddenly, fantastical creatures began to appear in sinuous designs for locks, ewers, rings, tapestries, stained glass, and more. Alternatively fearsome and playful, graceful and rigid, these works—often measuring just a few inches—are at times erotically charged and at others moralizing.
In June 2016, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum mounts the exhibition Fragile Beasts, highlighting rarely seen grotesque works on paper from the museum’s permanent collection. Now, never before published in this form, they are redrawn by designer Magali An Berthon in the pages of a coloring book.