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from Barna Hedenhös upptäcker Amerika
  • Artist Bertil Almqvist (Swedish, 1902 - 1972)
  • Titlefrom Barna Hedenhös upptäcker Amerika
  • Dating 1950
  • Technique/MaterialInk, watercolour and gouache on paper
  • Dimensions30,1 x 23 cm
    Papper: 33 x 25,1 cm
  • AcquisitionPurchase, 2014
  • CategoryChildren's book illustration
  • Inventory NumberGKM 2014-7
  • Rights and ReproductionChristina Billgren 2013©
  • Display StatusNot shown in the museum
Description
Signatures etc.
Exhibition History
In the illustrations for the books about the Hedenhös children, Bertil Almqvist made a clear division between image and text and frequently used speech balloons, reminiscent of classic comic-strip storytelling. Like other cartoonists, Almqvist based his character depiction on clichés and stereotypes, but he did not hesitate to relate complex events, often using parallel narratives. By inserting asterisks (*) in the dialogue, he was able to elaborate on and explain events and details in the margin.

The action of the Hedenhös stories takes place in the Stone Age but there are also references to topical events. Reading them today, the tales say as much about 1950s values regarding gender, ethnicity and technological achievements. In contrast to the enterprising Daddy Ben, Mummy Knota is portrayed as an unobtrusive subsidiary character who looks after her family. Sten and Flisa wear similar-looking clothes but are distinguished by characteristic attributes such as a stone axe and a doll.

Bertil Almqvist was committed to human equality and was an early critic of xenophobic currents that spread across Europe in the 1930s. Nevertheless, in his depictions of Native Americans in The Hedenhös Children Discover America (1950), a group of people is defined mainly by the colour of their skin. The depictions are based on history-writing from a privileged Western perspective and the prevailing view of Native Americans in the West at this time. By acquiring the illustrations, the museum wishes to encourage a critical interpretation of images and discuss the complexity surrounding history-writing, stereotypes and norms.