Thursday, September 20, 2012

Iacob Desideriu


Iacob Desideriu was a Romanian illustrator famous in his country for countless books illustrated for children. He was born on the 21th of June in Eliseni, Harghita 1930 and died in June 1980. He gratuated from the The Institute of Arts "Nicolae Grigorescu" Bucharest, graphics department, professor George Ivancenco. He was artistic editor for Ion Creanga Publishing House.

I grew up with his books. It is a shame that in Romania his finest works are not republished. There is a high probability to find the books he so painstakingly illustrated in old bookshops. But maybe some people don't want to owe a used book, maybe the thought that these books were read by  children with clean hands, unclean hands, when they were healthy or ill, is repellent to them.

I have often wondered why these books are not reprinted in my country, knowing that in countries with tradition for children illustrations, the bestselling books are the ones illustrated by classic illustrators, the very ones that fetch the highest prices. At least there they offer you an alternative. Either you buy the original published long time ago, providing you are rich enough to afford the price they ask for a first edition, or if you are just a novice collector that wishes to have a copy for his private library, you buy the new book reprinted for less money.

Well not in Romania. First of all, first editions come in derisory prices, as there is no tradition to appreciate what a first edition means. And it simply means that you take great care when you lay your hands on it and don't trash it all over the house until it looks like a beggar, praying you for mercy to end its crippled life. Wish I knew that when i was a child. Most probably it wouldn't have helped anyway.

Children should be taught by their parents to cherish books. I find it advisable for a parent to buy two copies of any book intended for the artistic development of his offspring. The grown up in the child will appreciate the gesture in time to come.

Second of all the publishing houses in Romania are not curios to print reproductions of some of the most beautiful books ever published for children in this country, to recall a time when illustration was considered an art form. For that was the Golden Age of Romanian illustrations ladies and gentlemen, and these illustrators are the ones who made it happen: Iacob Desideriu, Angi Petrescu Tiparescu, Coca Cretoiu, Val Munteanu, Romeo Voinescu, Eugen Taru, Done Stan, Livia Rusz, Marcela Cordescu, Vasile Olac, Doina Botez. My deepest apologies for the ones I left out.

I read on a forum that is because the notion of author rights or copyright law was unheard of when these illustrations were made. But that was in the black age of communism people, things have changed since, they deserve to be paid author rights. Is this really the reason? I fail to understand it.  Why do you rid a collector of its pleasure?

The success of a book intended for children doesn't lay with the writer only, it is a great responsibility of the illustrator as well. After the writer, he has to know the story better than anyone else. A child is first drawn to a book by the pictures it sees. It knows very well that reading is a tedious business, but he will make the effort if he likes the pictures. I personally do not like Jonathan Swift story at all, but Iacob Desideriu illustrations so tackled my curiosity, I had to read it. Hats off to Iacob Desideriu. He was a man with power and I will read, re-read Gulliver's travels only on account of it.

Work illustrated:

  • 1965 - Bristena, fiica dacilor – David Sava (Ed. Tineretului)
  • 1966 - Gavroche – Victor Hugo (trad. Olga Monta, Ed. Tineretului)
  • 1967 - Cosette – Victor Hugo (trad. Olga Monta, Ed. Tineretului)
  • 1968 - Zece basme mitologice – A. I. Odobescu (Ed. Tineretului)
  • 1969  - Singur pe lume – Hector Malot (trad. Anda Boldur, Ed. Tineretului)
  • 1969 - Zânele din poiana fermecată – Silvia Caralulis (Ed. Tineretului)
  • 1970 - Iliada ; Odiseea ; Eneida: repovestite pentru copii – de George Andreescu (Ed. Ion Creangă)
  • 1970 - Fata din împărăţia Curcubeului – George Niculescu-Mizil (Ed. Ion Creangă; ediţia a IIa)
  • 1971 - Proză – I. L. Caragiale (Ed. Ion Creangă
  • 1973 - Albă-ca-zăpada – Fraţii Grimm (Ed. Ion Creangă)
  • 1973 - Vântul prin salcii – Kenneth Graham (Ed. Ion Creanga, Colecţia "Biblioteca pentru toţi copiii")
  • 1974 - Gulliver's travels – Jonathan Swift (London : Abbey)
  • 1974 - Fram, ursul polar ( – Cezar Petrescu (Ed. Ion Creangă)
  • 1975  - Fram, the polar bear – Cezar Petrescu ( Ed. Roydon Publishing London)
  • 1977 - Poveşti cu zâne – Contesa de Segur (Ed. Ion Creangă)
  • 1979 - Doftorul Todiraş – poveste populară (Ed. Ion Creangă)
  • 1979 - Povestea lui Harap Alb – Ion Creangă ( Ed. Ion Creanga)
  • 1982 - Laleaua neagră (– Al. Dumas ( Ed. Ion Creangă, Colecţia "Biblioteca pentru toţi copii")
  • 1983 - Alunel şi pofta de mâncare – Petru Demetru Popescu (Ed. Medicală)
  • 1984 - Osul de peşte fermecat – Charles Dickens (trad: Antoaneta Ralian, Ed. Ion Creangă)
  • 1984 - Robin Hood – Pierce Egnan (Ed. Ion Creangă)
  • 1984 - Robin Hood – Pierce Egan (Ion Creanga Publishing House, lb. engl.)
  • 1985 - Robin de Bois – Pierce Egan (Ed. Ion Creangă, lb. fr.)
  • 1985 - Les voyages de Gulliver – Jonathan Swift (Ed. Ion Creangă
  • 1985 - Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe (Ed. Ion Creangă)
  • 1985 - Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe (illustrated by I. Dezideriu and Cătălina Iacob, Roydon Publishing)
  • 1985 - Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe (Ed. Ion Creangă, lb. fr.)
  • 1987 - Le chat botté – (Ed. Ion Creangă, trad. în fr. Teodora Cristea )
  • 1989 - Vrăjitorul din Oz – Frank Lyman Baum (trad. Iosefina şi Camil Baltazar, Ed. Ion Creangă)
  • 1999 - Vrăjitorul din Oz – Frank Lyman Baum, repovestită de Mihail Drumeş (Ed. Doina, 1999, Colecţia “Repovestiri pt micii citiori”)

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