Attilio Mussino’s unconventional Pinocchio

Attilio Mussino (Turin, 1878-Cuneo, 1954) knew he was about to stray from the path of Pinocchio’s traditional imagery.

The popular iconography of Collodi’s novel had formed in relatively recent times, yet had a strong grip on readers’ imagination. It had been created by the first two artists who had illustrated the wooden puppet’s adventures: Enrico Mazzanti (for the very first edition, in 1883) and Carlo Chiostri (in 1901).

The former had established the “puppet type” with “slightly flat and cold drawings” (as the Florentine writer Piero Bargellini later commented); the latter used “juicier and more pleasant illustrations” to inspire a new generation of readers.

In 1991, Mussino marched onto the scene adding theatrical sprightliness and depicting noisy, full-blooded, farcical, and boisterous characters.

In what might appear to be an implicit apology for his “betrayal”, he explained to his “young critics” – in the preface to the Bemporad edition to which he contributed – that the publisher had come to him, and had “brought the puppet into [his] home.”

His edition quickly became a classic, and is still in print.

October 3, 2014