Visiting the excellent The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Book Artists at the Leicester Museum and Art gallery for a second time doesn’t diminish the experience. For anyone over 50 in Britain it was like revisiting your childhood. All around you in the is the formative artwork of your childhood. This was the view of the world for Post War children that was safe and reassuring – full of upstanding people going about their lives. Even the well known shits such as King John were given a makeover. It could be described as the British version of the Soviet Social Realism art and those of us who grew up with it have a warm affection for the simple world it portrays. I suspect that might also be the view of our many of our contemporaries who grew up in the former Soviet Union of their childhood art.
Of course for anyone under 50 the attraction is more curio than nostalgia and it was interesting to see the expressions on the teenagers who appeared to be somewhat bewildered by the whole experience and good on them for that. They have their own world view and perhaps one day they too will experience the joys of remembering things past when they are in their 50’s.
As a startling juxta position the next gallery contains one of the finest collections of German expressionist art anywhere in the world. Instead of the reassuring images produced by the Ladybird book artists you find graphic images of war and torment. Under the Nazis it was viewed as degenerate art and was band.
They provide strange bedfellows but should be viewed together. Life is nothing like as safe as the warm world of Ladybird but thankfully for most of us the world isn’t as forbidding as that captured by the German Expressionists. In these crazy Brexit days it is worthwhile understanding that there are many more views than the closed off one you might want to think the world should be. Viewed together that message is loud and clear are well worth the trip to experience.