Alice's adventures in Wonderland
Author: Lewis Carroll (1832 - 1898)
Illustrator: John Tenniel
Artist: Didier Mutel (*1971)
A colourful edition of a classic
In 2002 an edition of Lewis Carroll came out: Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. The book has differently coloured pages and was scanned from the original publication with illustrations by John Tenniel. Both the text and the illustrations were enlarged (blown up to 36x26 cm) and transferred to copperplates before being printed off in blue.
The paper was processed beforehand, each page having been separately printed by means of monotyping. To that end, Mutel had prepared a whole set of different copperplates, the ‘motion’ of the pigments on the various plates being clearly visible. There are blue and green pages, but also pink, yellow, orange, brown and purple ones.
Mutel's touch of horror
It was Mutel himself who created the book’s 42 illustrations. They, too, were printed as copper plate engravings but then in shades to match the paper. Each one was shrouded behind a thin page of Japanese paper so that Mutel’s own illustrations initially remained invisible but those of Tenniel could be seen. Opposite the tiny Tenniel pictures Mutel placed etchings that covered the entire page. These are no sweet children’s book illustrations. Mutel’s edition of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland belongs to the modern ‘scary tale’ genre of nightmarish fairy tales in which children’s stories are presented as horror stories. In Mutel’s portrayal of Alice she is a scary full-breasted creature with spiky hair and Dracula teeth. The book itself, both the cover and the pages, is like a silky-soft skin.
The whole production process sometimes made it necessary for certain pages to pass through the printing press eight times. In total, 50 copies were produced. The sequel, Through the looking-glass, also underwent the same complex series of processes.
Read more: Through the looking-glass.
Description: Alice's adventures in wonderland / by Lewis Carroll ; [with 42 ill. after John Tenniel combined with original copper engravings by Didier Mutel]. - Paris : Didier Mutel, 2002. – 192 p.,  bl. pl. : ill. ; 38 cm.
Printer: Didier Mutel (Paris)
Edition: 50 copies
This copy: Number 24/40 of 50 on Arches and Sekishu-Shi
Note: Uncut; with cassette; signed by the artist
Shelfmark: KW KOOPM E 97
- Marie Akar, ‘Didier Mutel. Graveur et artiste du livre’, in: Art & métiers du livre, 285 (juillet-août 2011), p. 40-51.
- Paul van Capelleveen, 'Didier Mutel', in: Artists & others. The imaginative French book in the 21st century. Koopman Collection, National Library of the Netherlands. Nijmegen, Vantilt Publishers, 2016, p. 70-77.
- Paul van Capelleveen and Ruth R. Rogers, 'Didier Mutel, Atelier Didier Mutel', in: Materialia Lumina. Contemporary Artists’ Books from the CODEX International Book Fair. Berkeley, CA: The CODEX Foundation; Stanford: Stanford Libraries, Stanford University, 2022, p. 129-140
- Alan Chatham de Bolivar, ‘Le cas étrange du Dr. Jekyll et de Mr. Hyde’, in: Art & métiers du livre, 189 (janvier-février 1995), p. 16-17.
- Johanna Drucker, ‘The art of the written image’, in: Johanna Drucker, Figuring the word. essays on books, writing, and visual poetics. New York City, Granary Books, 1998, p. 57-75.
- Didier Mutel, ‘A mythical animal encountered in unknown lands’, in: The artist book in a global world. A workshop in Poestenkill, New York, August 2002. (Wulf D. von Lucius, Gunnar A. Kaldewey, Eds.). Stuttgart, Lucius & Lucius, 2003, p. 19-32.
- Timothy Young, ‘If it is beautiful, it is useful: a few words for Didier Mutel and his unheeded manifesto’, in: Didier Mutel, Acide brut manifesto. Berkeley, CA., Codex Foundation, 2011, p. 3-7.
- Timothy Young, ‘Meet Captain Acid’, [published 11 October 2014, website: ‘The Design Observer Group’].