Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bunnies for Easter

After last week's Easter eggs, my bunny-obsessed friend Betsy suggested a post on Easter bunnies. At first I wasn't convinced. Aren't bunnies a bit cloying and pedestrian? But as I searched my brain for bunnies in art, you could say I fell further down the rabbit hole. Or even that I...

Which brings us to one of the most famous rabbits: the White Rabbit from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. As the impetus for Alice's journey, the White Rabbit has become a symbol for searching for purpose in life/waking to a new reality/drugs. Isn't that right, Jefferson Airplane? Helping the White Rabbit and so many other characters from the book reach icon status was John Tenniel, who did the illustrations in the original 1865 edition.

Grace Slick hopes that's a pipe.

But the White Rabbit isn't the only rabbit in Wonderland. There's also the crazed March Hare, who, along with the Mad Hatter and the Dormouse, is trapped in a perpetual absurdist teatime. 

If you ask Alice, she'll tell you these guys have the real drugs.

In 2010, a new edition of Alice in Wonderland was published by Harper Collins, lavishly illustrated by superstar artist Camille Rose Garcia. The nightmarish-but-beguiling tea party was a perfect fit for her style.

Told you they have the good stuff.

Mysterious white rabbits have also appeared in the work of contemporary artist Marc Burckhardt. Although delicate, his rabbits have a quietly lethal vibe, whether battling snakes or seeming to have traces of blood on their paws and mouths.

Burckhardt's "Mirror" on the cover of the Indiana Review.

With their implied silence and keen observational eyes, his rabbits remind me of those in the backgrounds of the famed "Lady and the Unicorn" tapestries from late 15th Century Europe. 

Two of the many background bunnies.

Along with many other animals, the prolific rabbits watch the actions taken by the central figures of the lady, unicorn, maidservant, and lion. 

Alas, then there's how the Dutch do rabbits.

Melchior d'Hontecoeter, Still Life with Peacock, Rabbit, and Spaniel, c. 1660

Camille Rose Garcia illustration: PAPERMAG 
     -More of Garcia's Wonderland illustrations at Merry Karnowsky Gallery
"Lady and the Unicorn" tapestries: Cluny Museum.
d'Hontecoeter painting: image from PopArt Machine, owned by Legion of Honor

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