Leo Lionni: Storyteller, Artist, Designer (Hardcover)

Leo Lionni: Storyteller, Artist, Designer By Steven Heller (Editor), Leonard S. Marcus (Editor), Annie Lionni (Editor), Stephanie Haboush Plunkett (Editor) Cover Image

Leo Lionni: Storyteller, Artist, Designer (Hardcover)

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The first survey of Leo Lionni’s protean career as a graphic designer, children’s book creator, and fine artist


Between Worlds: The Art and Design of Leo Lionni opens at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, on November 18, 2023.



Leo Lionni (1910–1999) was a key figure of postwar visual culture, who believed that a smart, pithy design language could unite people across generations and cultural boundaries. He first achieved success in the field of graphic design, serving as the influential art director of Fortune magazine from 1948 to 1960 and personally executing such innovative designs as the catalogue for the Museum of Modern Art’s seminal photo exhibition The Family of Man. Then, in the 1960s, he embarked on an equally groundbreaking career in picture books, using torn-paper collages to illustrate modern animal fables such as Frederick and Swimmy, which are still beloved today. But even as his books won multiple Caldecott Honors, Lionni—who had begun as a painter—also maintained a fine art practice centered on his Parallel Botany, a richly imagined world of fanciful plants.



This volume, the catalogue of a major exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum, is the first to present Lionni’s extraordinary career in the round. Written by leading scholars and with an introduction by the artist’s granddaughter, it is illustrated with abundant examples of his work, including many little-seen items from the Lionni family archives. Leo Lionni: Storyteller, Artist, Designer will be an important, and eye-opening, contribution to the history of art and design.



Steven Heller was an art director at the New York Times for thirty-three years and is co-chair of the MFA Design department at the School of Visual Arts. A widely recognized authority on the history of graphic design, he has written or edited more than one hundred books about design and popular culture.

Leonard S. Marcus is one of the world's preeminent authorities on the history of children's literature. He is the author or editor of more than twenty-five books on the subject; the curator of numerous important exhibitions, including the New York Public Library's landmark show The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter; and a founding trustee of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

Annie Lionni is Leo Lionni’s granddaughter and the administrator of his work.

Stephanie Haboush Plunkett is Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Norman Rockwell Museum.
Product Details ISBN: 9780789214706
ISBN-10: 0789214709
Publisher: Abbeville Press
Publication Date: January 23rd, 2024
Pages: 184
Language: English
Twenty-four years after his death, the book lowers the velvet ropes separating the quadrants of Leo Lionni’s creative output. Who knew that the creator of the most recognizable mice since Stuart Little also dreamed up the prototype for Sports Illustrated? . . . Lionni had a rare ability to change shades — and retain his signature vibrancy — while moving, seemingly effortlessly, from one realm to another.

— New York Times

I’ve known who Leo Lionni was since I was in a freshman at the Tyler School of Art in the 60’s. I remember seeing The Family of Man cover he designed for the 1955 photographic exhibit at MOMA which was displayed in the Tyler Library. It was the first time I clearly understood what a graphic designer was, and what they did for a living.



As a young working professional, I was inspired by Lionni’s Fortune magazine covers and his advertising design, and later genuinely surprised by his children’s stories and illustrations. He had amazing breadth and depth, all on display in this volume.

— Paula Scher, graphic designer and partner, Pentagram

Throughout Leo Leonni’s varied and eclectic work one can see his wit as well as his mid-century design sensibility; formal and geometric, but softened by his warmth and playfulness. The breadth of his career is wonderfully shown in the images and informed writing in this book.
— Marc Rosenthal, New York Times bestselling illustrator

Leo Lionni: Storyteller, Artist, Designer offers a fascinating look at the man behind the beloved children’s books whose themes continue to resonate with young readers today. His story is an encouraging reminder that being ourselves — however many selves there may be — is always best.

— Hyperallergic