Monday, April 28, 2014

Lolita, the cover

There is still time to see the Gauguin Metamorphoses at the MOMA. Among a vast work incorporating all fine arts mediums, from monotype to lithography and woodcuts, paintings to drawings, you will find a ceramic sculpture protected by a bloc of glass,  in one of the rooms on the top floor - the goddess of his invention Oviri, or "Savage" in Tahitian. Out of all his creations, Gauguin wanted to take just this one to his grave - or, the way he put it, he wanted Oviri to be placed on his tomb. You might ask yourself what is the original sculpture doing in a museum. Despite the fact that he was at the end at his physical powers made even worse by the cruel poverty, he knew, not in a bragging way, that he was a great artist. He probably did not know that he will become so famous that would be impossible to leave any of his creations unsecured on a field of death. A bronze cast was placed on his tomb instead of the original ceramic sculpture. 

This has something to do with Lolita. Nabokov had a clear picture of how the book cover of his own masterpiece should look like "

"I want pure colors, melting clouds, accurately drawn details, a sunburst above a receding road with the light reflected in furrows and ruts, after rain. And no girls. If we cannot find that kind of artistic and virile painting, let us settle for an immaculate white jacket,  with LOLITA in black bold lettering." 

What happened to his wish?Though, the "slave to the image" became more flexible, he was still surprised at the pop culture and marketing decisions that influenced the cover of his novel. 

Good and bad examples are bellow: 

A. Old Lolita's obviously allowed to drink alcohol and vote in most countries: 

B. The anonymous Lolita:

C. The butterfly Lolita:

D. Various cultural interpretations:


E. the overly sexualized Lolita

F. And, lastly, Lolita the stripper...
 My Favorite:


A great book on the topic: Lolita: The Story of a Cover Girl: Vladimir Nabokov's Novel in Art and design, by John Bertram and Yuri Leving. 

Dieter E. Zimmer gathered about a hundred and eighty-five covers from thirty-six countries in his online “Covering Lolita” gallery at this moment. 

If you prefer moutitasking, check out the audiobook book read by Jeremy Irons.