Art Heath Robinson Contraptions

ISBN 13: 9781585679805

Heath Robinson Contraptions

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9781585679805: Heath Robinson Contraptions

Here is a splendid treasury, the definitive volume of the comic fantasies of the great English artist William Heath Robinson, whose name passed into the English language during his lifetime. In America, we have the "Rube Goldberg devices;" in England, they call them "Heath Robinson contraptions."

Robinson's elementary mechanical world is brilliant and arcane--those ancient wooden cogwheels, intricate pulleys, fragile gantries, ingenious tunnels, magnets, and steam kettles kept on boil by a lighted candle or two; the whole enterprise held together by knotted string and operated by intensely serious workmen with a sprinkling of soberly top-hatted company directors in charge.

This distinguished volume of Robinson's dazzling genius covers the whole field of his comic work in peace and war, from his first mocking anti-German propaganda in the First World War down to the Second, during which he died. Turning these delightful pages, one has exactly the feeling of H.G. Wells, who wrote to Heath Robinson in 1914: "Your absurd, beautiful drawings . . . give me a peculiar pleasure of the mind like nothing else in the world."

Robinson's world will enchant everyone and for all time--so long as machines remain machines and human beings need reminding that that is all they are.

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About the Author:

W Heath Robinson began his career illustrating works of poetry and children's stories. At magazines such as The Sketch, he developed his humorous illustrations for adults, culminating in the series of inventions for which he became known by his contemporaries as 'The Gadget King'.

Review:

Heath Robinson. Duckworth Overlook, $35 (128p) ISBN 978-1-58567-980-5 American readers will not recognize Robinson's name, but he can best be explained as the British version of American cartoonist Rube Goldberg, a specialist in visualizing absurdly complex combinations of low-tech devices arranged to perform simple tasks. This was also the specialty of cartoonist and illustrator Robinson, who was born a decade earlier, in 1872. It seems that in Britain "a Heath Robertson contraption" means the same thing that a "Rube Goldberg machine" does in the States. Oddly, editor Geoffrey Beare never mentions Goldberg in his introduction; perhaps Goldberg is as unknown in the U.K. as Robinson is here. Beare points to Robinson's skills as both artist and satirist. Robinson often depicts scenes from a low angle and gives them an epic scale, endowing his nonsensical machines with an ironic grandeur while mocking the indolence of the modern man, who would rather rely on gadgetry than perform a simple task himself. Through his cartoons Robinson conveys his own sheer joy in his amazing visual imagination. These cartoons are not laugh-out-loud funny, but are consistently inventive and amusing. The reader may find himself in the position of the black cat who turns up in numerous Robinson cartoons, quietly observing the follies of humanity, fascinated by them. (Nov.) -- Publishers Weekly

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