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Dick Bruna and Black Bears and Japanese Matchboxes


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While Dutch artist, illustrator, and graphic designer Dick Bruna (1927–2017) was writing and illustrating his early books for children, he was also designing book covers for mysteries and detective novels: 2,000 of them.

On the other side of the world, Japanese artists and designers were designing matchbox labels.

What do Dick Bruna’s covers have to do with Japanese matchboxes? Absolutely nothing—until they’re placed side-by-side. Only then does it seem the two must be related. But this is a contrived coincidence, not an indication of an actual historical relationship. This catalogue, like the design exhibition it documents, encourages viewers to look deeply at the juxtaposed materials and make their own connections.

With an afterword and exhibition checklist by curator Michael Russem

Design and typography by Kat Ran Press

Published by Katherine Small Gallery, 2019

Softcover, 20 pages, 5.875 × 8.25 inches