The National Galleries of Scotland’s collection of works on paper and artists’ books spans the twentieth century and beyond, from artists illustrating literary classics, to book objects which take the concept of narrative to new levels. Stories for children and adults alike emerge from the pages, to educate, entertain and moralise.
Illustrated books and portfolios of prints have always been the playground of storytellers, writers and artists. From William Hogarth’s engraved sequence A Rake’s Progress of 1735 to Damien Hirst’s intervention in Snowblind of 1998, the artists book or portfolio is a tremendously flexible medium, providing space for collaboration and experimentation, visual and literary storytelling, conventional and subversive narratives.
From epic poems to theatrical scripts, morality tales to comic strips, the visual aspect of storytelling and the role of the artist in interpreting the narrative shapes our perception of characters and settings.
Our collective imagination has been captured time and again by artists telling stories.