NPR

Long-Lost Watercolors Of '1001 Nights' Bring New Life To Age-Old Tales

A long-lost work of Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen is being published for the first time, evoking all the magic of this legendary collection of Indo-Persian and Arabic folktales.
This original watercolor is from "The Tale of the First Dervish" about a brother and sister who suffer the consequences of falling in love. Source: Courtesy of TASCHEN

In the early 20th century, artists experimented with color and less realistic dimensions, and mixed the worlds of Eastern and Western mythologies. Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen, working in Europe during World War I, finished his own evocative version of A Thousand and One Nights. His mysticism-tinted take on the Arabian stories pushed visual storytelling to new heights.

Nielsen filled his illustrations with expressionist, nearly surrealist characters and whimsical landscapes, breaking the boundaries of what visual storytelling was supposed to look like.

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