Concept art by Mary Blair for Walt Disney's 1951 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland (c) Disney
A new exhibit entitled Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser will open next March at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Staged by renowned theater designer Tom Piper, the exhibit documents 157 years of widespread fascination with Lewis Carroll‘s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The famous children's tale, published in 1865 (and its sequel, entitled Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, released in 1871) features a cast of characters and an illustriously imaginary world that have inspired many artists for centuries, including those whose work appear in the exhibit—Tim Burton, Salvador Dalí, and designer Vivienne Westwood.
Included in the over 300 objects exhibited in the art show are the original book illustrations by illustrator John Tenniel. A prodigious cartoonist of the Victorian period, Tenniel collaborated with Carroll on his first edition. His original drawings of Alice, the Dodo, and other characters helped define their now-famous appearances. Visitors will also view photographs of the “real” Alice. The child of a dean at Oxford, Alice Liddell was spunky and vivacious. Carroll (whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) entertained young Alice and her two sisters with fantasy stories, one of which became Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Other characters from Wonderland are just as famous as Alice. The Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, and the Cheshire Cat appear through modern lenses. For example, in true 1960s aesthetic, a psychedelic poster designed by Joseph McHugh portrays a red-eyed Cheshire Cat. The exhibit will also include images from modern dramatic renditions of the tale. The costume designs of the 2010 Tim Burton film and Christopher Wheeldon's ballet (performed in 2011 by London's Royal Ballet) demonstrate the enduring relevance of Carroll's characters. Original Walt Disney concept art created for the animated 1951 film will also be on view.
Getting “curiouser and curiouser” to see more? The exhibit Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser will open to the public on Saturday, March 27, 2021 at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Tickets will go on sale soon on the V&A website. The exhibit will continue through December 2021 to allow ample time for all interested visitors to see the collection in safety. While you wait, you can create a Victorian paper peepshow with this V&A tutorial designed by artist Clare Bryan.
An upcoming exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London will trace 157 years of the artistic influence of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.