Amazing what can be done with a nice bit of paper. This characterful bovine was sculpted by artist Bruce Angrave in the 1940s. It was a ‘paper cartoon for a cow-cake manufacturer’ and titled ‘The cow that swayed in the wind.’ What, I must ask, is a cow-cake?
This particular image of Angrave’s curvaceous cow comes out of a cracking 1951 Graphis book called International Window Display. They mostly called it paper sculpture in those days. It was a big thing in window display and a slightly smaller thing in advertising design. Many display books from the 1920s to the 1950s had a section on paper sculpture. It was big in Europe and America. A few big names wrote their own books on the subject of paper and display, notably Arthur Sadler and Tadeuz Lipski and later, Angrave himself.
Angrave did some other nice things. For London Underground he designed posters and a heroic stag deer in paper for a greetings card. On the lovely and endlessly surfable The Visual Telling of Stories website they have some magazine covers with his illustrations on them. They are almost more papery than his paper sculptures.
As I blogged before, a lot of this paper work came over to the UK with Polish émigré artists, just before the second world war. But a Graphis article from 1946 (showing our cow and other work) insists that Angrave’s work has nothing in common with Polish paper-cut design. Further, that Angrave used no glue in his models and the method he did use was patented. Interesting.
A few clues to construction can be seen in a lovely little film of Angrave sculpting paper politicians. The film comes complete with a nice plumy voice-over. And whilst the secret construction method appears to be nothing more revolutionary than sticky tape – just watch the man wind that paper around his little finger, as it were.
Well, tickle my ribs with an umbrella! I thoroughly enjoyed this post, thank you. Have tweeted too.
Consider your ribs tickled with a paper umbrella then. Thanks for the tweet, too. That film is a bit of a delight, isn’t it?
so modern. You might be interested in this:
and there, there are quite numerous paper toys from the early twenties and thirties:
Hello, thanks very much for these links. I have heard of the modernist toys exhibition at the Picasso Museum. Have you visited it? It looks great.
The MeMo book on Alexander Rodchenko book looks amazing too, very tempting..
Merci pour cet article.
Je ne connaissais pas vraiment cet artiste très original.
Est-il très connu en Angleterre ?
No, he isn’t well know over here. One of many commercial artists of the 1930s – 1950s waiting to be discovered!
Hello. I have 3 books by Bruce Angrave : “Cat-alogue”, “Magnifi-cat” and “Tripli-cat”. They are drawings of cats, with puns, previously published in Woman Magazine in the seventies. Do you know if it’s the same Bruce Angrave? Thank you for your answer.
I am fairly sure it is the same Bruce Angrave, working in later life than when I wrote about him.
Yes, he is the same Bruce Angrave. I knew his close friend in 1984-5 in NW3 near the Chalk Farm station.