Lilian Brøgger, born in 1950 on the island of Fanø and raised in Copenhagen, is the most important Danish illustrator to emerge since the generation of Ib Spang Olsen and Svend Otto S. With more than 100 illustrated books to her credit, she has set trends and been a main influence on visual ex pr ession for children and adults alike throughout Scandinavia. She studied at the Copenhagen School of Arts and Crafts and was the first woman to graduate in Illustration. She made her artistic début in 1975 with »Der hvor Linda bor« (text: Bodil Bredsdorff; t: Where Linda lives).
Lilian Brøgger has brought a new independence to the Danish illustration scene. Yet her influence does not belong to any particular »school«. Unlike other illustrators, she has no immediately recognisable style; instead, with each pr oject, she develops a new form of ex pr ession and a new technique. The power of her artistic creation is found in a refreshing contradiction between extreme seriousness and playful ease. In the seventies the artist was committed to a realistic style of illustration, which gave way to fairytale symbolism in the eighties. »Alice i Eventyrland« (1982; text: Lewis Carroll; t: Alice in Wonderland) is her early lyrical masterpiece. Shortly afterwards she published a stellar inter pr etation of Andersen’s »Ole Lukøje« (1985; t: The Sandman). Over the last decade Brøgger has finally been regarded as a post-modern illustrator of a multitude of children’s books, in which she refuses to accept the rules of motif, pr oportion and re pr esentational method.
It is Lilian Brøgger’s unconventionality that makes her illustrations of Louis Jensen’s series, »Hundrede Historier« (1992ff; t: A hundred stories), a masterpiece. Each title in the series contains 100 philosophically absurd short fairy tales about wretched dragons, cigar-smoking Wellington boots and lovesick croissants. Sometimes she pr esents paper-thin shapes with black and white pen-and-ink drawings, sometimes she highlights monochrome etchings with a delicate blue. The fifth, colour-rich work in the series, »Hundrede meget firkantede historier« (2005; t: A hundred very square stories) was given an award at the Bratislava Illustrators’ Exhibition.
Lilian Brøgger adopts an open ap pr oach to fantastical figures, animals, everyday objects of all kinds, nakedness, smoking and designer furniture. Nothing is too beautiful, nor is anything too ugly to appear in her drawings. »Before Lilian Brøgger there weren’t as many long noses and big hats, distorted forms and sur pr ising perspectives in children’s books«, observes the critic Steffen Larsen. She never loses sight of what appeals to children, nor does she merely imitate a text. »Even though I always make sure that the pictures relate faithfully to the story, the most important thing for me is to find my own pictorial cosmos in the text.« As a lecturer at the Kolding School of Design, Lilian Brøgger campaigns for artistic equality between illustrators and authors. She was a member of the jury of the Illustration Exhibition in Bologna, amongst others, and was a 2006 Hans Christian Andersen Award finalist. In the same year she won »The Power of Pictures«, a competition for illustrators of children’s books which takes place in Talinn every three years. Most recently, working together with Cato Thau-Jensen, she illustrated 50 Bible stories, which are published in Synne Garff’s »De Mindstes Bibel«. Brøgger lives in Copenhagen.
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