Quick Art Stop: Steven Guarnaccia

h1 July 22nd, 2010 by jules

Here’s a quickie illustration post this morning that falls into the Just When You Think You’d Seen It All category for the ‘ol tried-and-true tale of the Three Little Pigs. Steven Guarnaccia, the chair of the illustration program at Parsons the New School for Design in New York, brings us The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale, released by Abrams in March.

Hand this book to an architectural design junkie, and you will make his or her day.

Guarnaccia reimagines the tale with reverent nods toward three famous architects (or, as Booklist writes, “a porcine doppelgänger for {each}”): He models the pigs on Frank Gehry, Phillip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright — with the three pigs’ homes as nods to their trademark styles.

The first pig “decided to build his house of scraps”:

“The second little pig decided to build his house of glass”:

But the third little pig decided to build his house of stone and concrete:

There aren’t any remarkable changes to the dramatic action here: The wolf (all decked out soft-core punk, as you can tell here) still manages to blow the first and second houses away, those pigs running to the homes of their brothers. Not able to huff and puff his way through the third Fallingwater-inspired home, the wolf tells the third pig to meet him the following morning at Farmer Wright’s, “and I’ll show you a fine tomato greenhouse.” The pig, as you may have guessed, gets there early, picking the best tomatoes in the greenhouse before the wolf even arrives. Same goes for Farmer Johnson’s apple orchard the next day and Frank’s Flea Market the following. However, instead of a barrel, the third pig hides himself in a fine rug he admires at Frank’s Flea Market — and rolls right towards the wolf, who ends up in the predicament you see in the spread opening this post.

Kirkus writes, “Guarnaccia’s illustrations are quirky and stylish, incorporating notable 20th- and 21st-century architecture and interior design elements,” Publishers Weekly adding, “{h}e plays to design fans, decorating the pigs’ homes with objects by the likes of Noguchi and Starck, and his endpapers provide a visual index to the allusions.” While this is a picture book more suited to older readers, those endpapers do serve as a guide for your younger, more design-minded children. Hey, it can happen. I’m sure they’re out there.

And for us grown-up readers and illustration junkies, particularly those who like to see contemporary twists on these age-old fairy tales, it’s fun stuff. I’ll leave you with the final image, the tail-singeing.

(The three little pigs, of course, eat a supper of tomato soup and apple pie, living happily ever after. I hope your lunch later today is just as satisfying.)

Note: See here for lots more art from Guarnaccia.

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THE THREE LITTLE PIGS: AN ARCHITECTURAL TALE. Copyright © 2010 by Steven Guarnaccia. Published by Abrams, New York, NY.

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8 comments to “Quick Art Stop: Steven Guarnaccia”

  1. genius!


  2. How did I miss this? Fabulous!!


  3. Terrific. I need this book!


  4. I’m so glad you reviewed this book! Are you familiar with his previous one, a designer’s version of Goldilocks? It’s as good as this one.


  5. Hi, Sergio. No, I haven’t seen it, but I read about it, while reading reviews for this one. I’ll try to find a copy.


  6. Oh, wow… I placed an order for a copy of this to be shipped to my architect Lil Brother within 5 minutes of reading about it here!


  7. Thank’s for the beautiful review, I’ll order it for the store.


  8. Jules,

    I love picture books that put a new twist on old tales. This is a book I HAVE to get for myself!


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