GLORIA IN EXCELSIS DEO: STRIKING TABLE-TOP CRÈCHE BY CZECH POP-UP ARTIST VOJTECH KUBASTA
KUBASTA, Vojtech. Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Czechoslovakia: [Orbis], circa 1960. Folio (8-3/4 by 12-1/2 inches, 17-1/2 by 12-1/2 inches unfolded), original half blue cloth, original pictorial paper boards, die-cut cardstock pop-ups. $750.
Presumed first edition of this masterpiece of pop-up engineering, a delightful large three-dimensional table-top crèche by acclaimed artist Kubasta, featuring an elaborate nativity mixing traditional elements of Bethlehem and folk elements of Kubasta's native Prague.
"Kubasta's talent as a graphic artist was to combine a robust graphic style of great charm and humor with a puppet-master's flair for story-telling in three dimensions" (John Michael Dawson). "His distinctive bold and colorful figures, as seen in this work, became increasingly popular. After the Czech publishing industry was nationalized in 1948, Kubasta began creating advertising materials for Czech products abroad that included three-dimensional cards for items such as Pilsner beer, porcelain and sewing machines. Beginning in the 1950s, he developed elaborate paper construction crèches annually (this being an example) each Christmas season… His beautifully designed and intricate pop-ups were later produced from the 1960s-1980s worldwide and became the inspiration for the revival of the pop-up book industry in America" (Stephen Van Dyke, Smithsonian Libraries). "Kubasta's faux-naif style with a Bohemian flavor is somewhat exotic to an American eye" (Ellen G.K. Rubin), and "today, original editions of his illustrations and books are sought after by collectors from around the world" (James A. Findlay). Without the scarce Star of Bethlehem, also not present in the Smithsonian copy but originally attached near palm tree.
Neat tape repairs to verso of building and wise man, a few faint creases to pop-ups but all standing tall, light rubbing to extremities of boards, slight soiling and tape repair to spine. A handsome copy.