The dark side of Dick Bruna

March 10, 2018 – July 1, 2018
Hal
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Dick Bruna, Little black bear depicted in an oval painting (railway station poster), 1968
‘The Dark Side of Dick Bruna’ focuses on the Dutch Miffy creator's alternative visual language. Apart from the innocent white rabbit, Dick Bruna also created a jet-black bear. It became an icon for more than a thousand detective novels and other suspense stories released by Bruna publishers.

Just like Miffy, the black bear was lovingly referred to in the diminutive form.  However, the ‘little black bear’ became synonymous with suspense and excitement, murder and manslaughter. Bruna’s dark world is populated by smart detectives. They hide in their oversized raincoats, smoke pipes and wear fedora hats. To solve dark goings-on and mysteries in obscure little hotels, they crack codes and occasionally literally crack brains. Rats, spiders and flies indicate that weapons such as pistols, swords, poison and ‘Satan bugs’ are not shunned in these places. In all their simplicity, Bruna's dark illustrations have the same great power of expression as Miffy. The only difference is that for creating the little black bears the illustrator had complete freedom to dip his pen in the inkwell just that little bit deeper.

weduwewilgen.jpg
Dick Bruna, Havank [De weduwe in de wilgen (The Widow in the Willow Trees) / Zwarte Beertjes 241], 1959