Books We Love: Bjørn Wiinblad Coloring Book

It's winter break in Denmark and my girls are at home for a week. It's still cold with frost, but no snow - and we long for spring. We spend an afternoon in good company with a bundle of crayons and a beautiful colouring book with a selection of some of the Danish illustrator, designer and artist Björn Wiinblad's fairylike, whimsical and poetic illustrations. 

Wiinblad’s imagery is wellknown for my girls. They know it from vases, mugs, puzzles and a favourite children’s book of their. And just as I did, when I was a kid, they love it and can’t get enough of all the fabulating details. Wiinblad surely is dear to many - his round-faced smiling figures surrounded by floral wreaths, germinating vegetations, blossoming trees and singing birds are deeply incorporated in our common visual culture.

At the same time Wiinblad (1918-2006) stands in severe contrast to most artists from his own time - the Danish modernism, the functional, simple, puritan, less-is-more tradition in Nordic architecture, design and art. He held his first exhibition in 1945 in the realm of 2nd World War and the post-war year’s pessimism and fear of the Cold War. You may say that Wiinblad painted an imagery far from reality with his decorative abundance and his universe of beauty, joy and sensuality - but this was exactly his main concern: To create decorative objects to spread joy in an otherwise grey and dystopian reality. 

On a cold and wintry day with post-influenza fatigue and a deep longing for spring and light, we still love to dwell a bit in this happy universe of Wiinblad. And his black-and-white graphic illustrations are just perfect for colouring by little hands (as well as bigger ones!). Actually they seem as designed for a colouring book of the mandala type, although mandala colouring books of course didn’t exist in the 50s, 60s and 70s where most of the illustrations in this selection were created. 

The Wiinblad colouring books is beautifully edited and published by Strandberg Publishing in the context of the Wiinblad exhibition at Museum of Modern Art Arken. The illustrations are thematically grouped in "Lovestories", "Women", "In Harmony With Nature" and "The Four Corners of The World". If you read Danish there is a small biography on Wiinblad included in the back of the book.

Happy winter reading and drawing - Inger Marie //

"Bjørn Wiinblad - 50 motiver du selv kan farvelægge", Strandberg Publishing and Museum of Modern Art Arken, 2015, ISBN: 9788792949356