Daily Art Moment: Warja Honegger-Lavater

An open book showing a key in three languages to the colored dots that tell the story spread across both pages. The key is set up in rows to show the words and the symbol they represent. The order is German, English, a picture of the symbol, and French. The key reads: “Mutter…mother…(mustard yellow dot)…la mere / Rotkappchen…Little Red riding Hood…(red dot)…Le Petit Chaperone / Grossmutter…grandmother…(blue dot)…la grand-mere / Wald…forest…(a cluster of nine dots in various shades of green)…la foret / Wolf…wolf…(back dot)…la loup / Haus…house…(vertical brown rectangle)…la maison / Jaeger…hunter…(brown dot)…la chasseur / Bett…bed…(brown U shape)…le lit”

“Can you tell an entire story using only colored dots? Swiss artist Warja Honegger-Lavater was up for the task, unfurling the story of Little Red Riding Hood in just four scenes plus a key to the symbols. Anyone familiar with this classic tale can easily follow the wordless action as Honegger-Lavater translates the action into pure visual sign. Each character is assigned a color (red for the girl, black for the wolf), enacting the drama across multiple pages in this playful yet powerful artist’s book.”

Mary Weaver Chapin, Curator of Prints and Drawings

An open book with an image representing the beginning of the story. On the left page, a large vertical brown rectangle (house) sits flush with the left edge with rows of green dots (forest) above and below it. At the right of the brown rectangle is a large mustard yellow dot (grandmother). To the right of this is a much smaller red dot (Little Red Riding Hood). The area surrounding the character dots is mostly blank white page. The page on the right side is filled with green dots (forest) lined up in rows and they begin to encroach onto the page at left. They are of various hues of green from teal to sage to olive green. The different hues form geometric shapes and lines within the page.
An open book showing pages with large dots on both the left and right pages. The left page shows very large green dots (forest) clustered in the center of the page. Along the far, left edge of the page, small green dots are lined up top to bottom and continue for about a third of the way towards the center of the page. A smaller red dot (Little Red Riding Hood) is positioned near the centerfold. On the right page is an enormous black dot (wolf) centered on the page. It is larger than any other dot shown so far and dominates the page. It is surrounded by large green dots (forest). The small red dot and the large black dot are very close and almost touch.
An open book with pages filled with green dots (forest) in various hues. The page on the left is filled with dots of mostly sage and olive green with a few teal dots forming geometric shapes. At right the page is filled with mostly teal and sage dots with a few olive green dots. On the left page, at far left center is a single small red dot (Little Red Riding Hood). On the right page at upper far right is a single small black dot (wolf).
An open book showing a roughly rectangular clearing surrounded by green dots of varying sizes. In the clearing at left is a large brown dot (hunter) and large blue dot is at right (grandmother). Between these two are a large mustard yellow dot (mother) stacked over a smaller red dot (Little Red Riding Hood). The surrounding green dots (forest) range in size from very small to twice as large as the hunter, grandmother, and mother dots.

Warja Honegger-Lavater (Swiss, 1913–2007). Little Red Riding Hood: Imagery After a Tale by Perrault, 1965. Accordion-fold book with lithographs in cloth-covered boards with Plexiglas slipcase, 6 1/4 in x 4 9/16 in x 3/4 in. Gift of Mel and Donald Jenkins, 2012.130.3a,b © unknown, research required

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