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As the journey unfolds in this accordion-style book, we see a sizable red dot surrounded by smaller green dots: Red Riding Hood journeying through the dense woods. But she’s not alone. As indicated by the black dot, notable for its size and relative spatial weight among the tints and shades of green, the Big Bad Wolf is on the prowl. For those already familiar with the story, the imposing vastness of the woods is succinctly conveyed by the multiple dots of green and the looming red and black dot confrontation is easily read as the fateful meeting of Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. Text is


unneeded. And given the innate expressive power of a well-conceived composition of simple geometric shapes, the book may even possess a larger, if less specific, emotional impact than a text version. Honegger-Lavater’s artistry is such that even without knowledge of the story and the key, a viewer might very well still sense the inherent conflict of the story and perhaps even some of its narrative drive.

The Oresteia
Leonard Baskin; translation by Ted Hughes

The story of Little Red Riding Hood is well-known to those who grew up in Western culture. Although there are countless variations of this legend, the basic plot of a young girl sent by her mother to deliver a basket of food to her grandmother, only to be lured and tricked by a wolf, is consistent in most versions, and, as in many fairy tales, good triumphs over evil in the end. Warja Honegger-Lavater, one of the earliest artists to work in the artists’ book genre, draws on the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Andersen. She interprets these classic


stories through the use of elemental geometric symbols that supplant traditional text and illustration, thereby creating a new kind of abstract story-telling vehicle.

Looking very much like a map legend, a key on the first page assigns the colored dots and other shapes to the characters and places that will tell the tale. Red naturally stands for Red Riding Hood herself, orange for the mother and of course, black for the sinister wolf. The surrounding forest is represented by a cluster of various shades of green.

Little Red Riding Hood
Warja Honegger-Lavater

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