23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Vladimir Radunsky

Portrait Vladimir Radunsky
© Ali Ghandtschi

Vladimir Radunsky was born in the Ural Mountains in 1954 and grew up in Moscow, where he studied art, design and architecture. In 1982 he moved to New York and started working as a designer of art books, gradually moving into writing and illustrating children’s books. Radunsky’s dynamic style and curious stories quickly made him famous. Since then he has published more than twenty works, which have been translated into numerous languages, received many awards, and been exhibited in France, Italy, Japan and the USA. From early on in his career, the trademark of Radunsky’s art has been apparent: he creates unconventional books, richly diverse in text and images, and employs styles and techniques ranging from those of realist painters to stylized advertising posters of the thirties to abstract collages. Radunsky comments on the diversity of his work: »The technique and style I choose for each new book depends entirely on its subject. I don’t draw pictures, I create books.« Vladimir Radunsky had emphasized this point with his early illustrated books »The Pup Grew Up!« (1989) and »Hail to Mail« (1990). He subsequently worked with writer Bill Martin Jr., and their collaborative picture book »The Maestro Plays« (1994) inspired animated short films for »Sesame Street«. He used an original blend of painting and collage for illustrations for children’s songs by the American trade unionist and songwriter Woody Guthrie (among them »Howdi Do«, 2000), while the award-winning work »What Does Peace Feel Like?« (2004) grew out of talks with school children in the USA and Europe. Among Radunsky’s most well-known works is »The Mighty Asparagus« (2004), inspired by the Italian Renaissance painting. Here he presents the curious story of a magical kingdom: one day an enormous asparagus shoots out of the ground in front of the royal palace and the king bids his entire entourage – the enchanting princess, the king’s beloved rhino and the brave knight – to help him. The picture book was named »Best Illustrated Book of the Year« by »The New York Times Book Review«. In 2004 »# 10 (ten)« was published in German translation, the story of an armadillo couple who are thrilled at the birth of ten adorable armadillo babies. Here Radunsky captivates his audience with exciting combination of collage, painting and typography, disregarding formal laws of layout and composition. In »Le grand bazar« (2006), published in France (the original version written in English and entitled »Big Busy Book« has not been released yet), the artist once more proves his gift for creating lively picture books: illustrations in the style of paintings, punch-out postcards and a myriad of printed models and objects for use invite readers from »ages 5-105« to be creative with scissors, pen and stapler. In collaboration with the dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, Radunsky recently produced the absurdly comical fairytale »Because…« (2007) about a chubby ballerina. The book has received critical acclaim and has been named on the New York Times Bestseller list. His latest book »Where the Giant Sleeps«, written by an Australian poet, Mem Fox, is coming out in October. The Russian New Yorker currently lives in Rome with his wife, daughters, and a dachshund.

© international literature festival berlin