The Appropriation of Fine Art into Contemporary Narrative Picturebooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Many picturebook artists have been formally trained in specific artistic styles, movements, and techniques. These artists appropriate and transform works of fine art to varying degrees to fit the themes and designs of the stories they illustrate and publish, and to increase the significance and impact of their illustrations. The intertextual-intervisual associations among picturebook illustrations and works of fine art are important considerations for understanding the meaning potentials of the designs and illustrations of contemporary narrative picturebooks. This paper focuses on the appropriation and transformation of works of fine art into contemporary narrative picturebook illustrations. The analysis of numerous picturebooks asserts three forms of appropriation, namely: (1) reproduction, (2) transfiguration, (3) stylization. These three forms of appropriation may be further conceptualized as falling along a continuum ranging from faithful reproductions to stylistic conventionalizations. Reproduction is conceptualized as a mimetic reproduction of an original work of fine art. It is a faithful rendering of an original artwork, most frequently achieved through a photographic or digital rendering process. In the second form of appropriation, transfiguration, a single work of fine art is identifiable but the picturebook artist has transformed the image to fit the context and purpose of a particular picturebook narrative and design. In stylization, a specific work of art is not readily identifiable, but a particular art movement, for example cubism, surrealism, or folk art is drawn upon by the illustrator.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-453
Number of pages16
JournalChildren's Literature in Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 11 2015


  • Analysis
  • Fine art
  • Intertextuality
  • Parody
  • Picture books

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'The Appropriation of Fine Art into Contemporary Narrative Picturebooks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this