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img718What splendid color! Who was Beni Montresor (1926-2001)? From my Italian, I know that Beni is short for Benito which is also the first name of the Italian dictator, Mussolini. Not an unusual name in Italy, if you were born in the 1920’s or 1930’s, after all there are plenty of villages named “Mussolini” as well.

img720Montresor was born in Bussolengo that small town on the outskirts of Verona in the Venice Region of Italy, not too far from the Garda Lake. He became a foremost film and theater set designer who had worked with all the greats like Federico Fellini, Vittorio de Sica and others.

img719Montresor shows us what magical dream like figures inhabit his and perhaps your world. I am in awe at the wonderful flat printed dense colors in my signed copy of this book. Note the dedication to Federico Fellini at the bottom of the page below.

img721 img722 img724The inspired drawings, like the village, are very Italianate here, and the head scarf almost Renaissance like. Some figures like the sun remind me a bit of some of the early figures by Piero Fornasetti.

The technique used by him looks like silkscreen or even wood or linoleum cuts. The primary colors work extremely well, and you wonder why there is no mention of this 1967 book, or the early Caldecott Prize winning title at all in the standard children’s book guide American Picture Books from Noah’s Ark to the Beast Within written by Barbara Bader in 1976.

The name Montresor is a pseudonym, the literal meaning is “my treasure“.  I am not sure how Montresor ended up using it. His real name was Beni Silvino. Perhaps he took the name from the character described in the short story The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe.

The treasures he created were for both young and old. In 1981, a retrospective exhibition of work for the theater was held at the Lincoln Center in New York.

Other exhibitions were held in Italy in 2008. Artwork by him, usually sketches for stage designs, occasionally can be found at auction.Fantastic! Grazie Beni!

 

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