Tales of the Brothers Grimm, Drawings by Natalie Frank

Image of Natalie Frank: Tales of the Brothers Grimm
Release Date: 
May 26, 2015
Reviewed by: 

has all of the makings and quality to become a collector’s item . . .”

The Tales of the Brothers Grimm, Drawings by Natalie Frank goes beyond the mere intent of illustrating the stories, instead Frank creates paintings that inform us of the visceral power of the tales with carnivalesque bold colors, raw strokes, intense characters, and details reminiscent of Goya and Francis Bacon. Many of them border on the macabre and bizarre.

The brothers Grimm recorded, collected, and edited ancient folk tales that had existed for generations well before being published by the brothers in 1812. They reflect a legacy of storytelling, oral history, and the ability to externalize an emotional state through metaphor and symbolism. Similar to Greek mythology which takes internal truths and externalizes them in a very physical way, the tales of the brothers Grimm recount stories in a symbolic fashion that are often unusual, disturbing, and surreal. They make their point clearly and symbolically but in such a way that it is definitely for mature audiences, as they are replete with tales of child abuse, childbirth, rape, incest, cruelty, and murder.

The stories also give voice to the struggles of women in society through their status as wives, mothers, girls, or princesses. The volume contains essays, an entertaining introduction by the renowned expert professor Jack Zipes on the origin of the tales, as well as a fascinating Conversation about Visual Storytelling between Frank and famed movie and stage director Julie Taymor (Frida, The Tempest, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, and The Lion King). 

From the gold stamped title on the cover to the illustrations throughout, this is an amazing volume with exceptional printing on heavy weight paper and remarkable color reproductions. It is a delight to read because the typesetting is so distinctive and clear.

Frank’s paintings complement the folktales and take the reader on a journey, page by page, that at times overwhelms the tales with her artistic vision. There are black and gray illustrations on virtually every page, in addition to the three-to-five full-page color illustrations for every one of the 36 selected stories; and color in the end sheets, frontispiece, and cover, which are a pleasure to view. The hues are vibrant. The artwork is extraordinary in its particularity and becomes an integral part of the stories, imparting a richness that is every bit equal to the bizarre and grotesque tales.

Tales of the Brothers Grimm, Drawings by Natalie Frank is an impressive tome with marvelous attention to detail.  Frank’s work is represented in private collections and museums in the United States. This book has all of the makings and quality to become a collector’s item for people who enjoy books that are beautifully printed and filled with commanding illustrations.