Saturday, March 31, 2018

Richard Teschner's Puppets

Richard Teschner (1879-1948) was an Austrian puppeteer who adapted the Indonesian rod-puppet tradition for European audiences.

His puppets were briefly featured in this British Pathé video. (Link to video)

The puppets are operated from below by rods rather than from above by strings. According to Brittanica, "The puppets were controlled by a central rod and had a network of internal strings to manipulate hand and leg movements, bending to the front or back, and sensitive facial expressions.

Teschner was also a gifted illustrator. Here is his character Zipzip.

Zipzip as a rod puppet
Teschner was inspired by a trip he took to the Netherlands, where he saw Javanese puppets brought back by Dutch traders.

Wassermann from "Prinzessin und Wassermann," 1913
Teschner believed that human voices interfered with puppet drama, so he performed his puppet shows in pantomime, with music box scores that he composed to match his exquisitely crafted characters.

"Bologneser Hündchen," 1929

A dog character with lots of fringes that would move with the main action of the puppet.

The Red from "Nachtstuck" 1913
An exhibition of the work of Richard Teschner took place a few years ago at the Theater Museum in Vienna.

Learn more online
Monster Brains (blog post with a lot of his illustration work)
50 Watts (with more info about his puppet theater)
Clive Hicks-Jenkins Artlog
Britannica on Teschner (biography)
Indonesian rod-puppet tradition (Wayang) on Wikipedia


CT said...

I have a 9yo son who enjoys making art that moves, and specializes in drawing jointed, mechanical objects. He draws intensely, daily, filling notebooks and myriad paper scraps. He simply LOVES drawing. People (besides me) are drawn to his art, which is highly imaginative (sometimes funny), has a confident style and features his knack for composition. I want to nurture his nascent talents. Here is the problem. I've attempted to gently introduce books about art making (including books written by James Gurney). He does not believe that art-making should be studied. He draws what he draws, end of story. No interested in classes.

Should I back off? Is this a common disposition for his age group. His teaches echo what I see at home: loves to draw, is appreciated as talented -- but is not interested in developing his artistic skills. How do I best support him?

- Scientist mom

Susan said...

I have a 7yo grandson who is like your son. As an artist myself I want to teach him things, but that does not go over well. So what I have done is share drawings that might be in a similar stye or a subject he likes. I have stopped praising the artwork in general (Wow! that looks great!) and go for more specific like. "I love the composition on this one" or "I like your color choices here". I have also learned that while he loves to draw, what he is, is a storyteller and a stop motion movie maker. He will light up if you "get" the story he is drawing.

Drawing may just be a way for your son to get his ideas out. What your son may be is an inventor, architect or engineer. Introduce him to more art like that and some ways to bring his drawings to life. He might also enjoy learning more about Leonardo da Vinci's inventions. I think by encouraging his interests in mechanical objects that may lead to more interest in studying art toward that purpose.

James Gurney said...

I agree with Susan. Let fun be his engine for now. Just have some art supplies and how-to books around the house that he's allowed to use. And when you give feedback, instead of praise, describe what you see in his pictures—verbalize your visual reaction. Lessons can be deadly if he's not asking for them, and they can even slow down a naturally motivated learner. He'll figure out what he needs to learn, and he'll have ideas on how he wants to learn it.

CT said...

Very helpful feedback. Much appreciated.

Quick follow-up question. He is very passionate about mechanical junk: the motor of a blender with blades attached, old photo darkroom switches and timers, the guts of a fuse box etc. (People throw out wonderful junk here in Manhattan, and we are fortunate to have a bit of outdoor deck space to store trash-to-treasure.)

I think he would like staging junk in some kind of well-lit box and drawing "from" it (as inspiration) if not outright drawing it.

Is there anything I could read online or in a book about setting something like this up? Maybe using a small product photo box?

Thanks again for the feedback. I'm grateful.

CT said...

Just as follow-up (and in case Google lands someone here with a similar kid). I purchased 'Nuthin but Mech' Vols 1-3. I found a link to these books somehow through Gurney Journey. Vol 1 is out of print and will take a while to receive but Vols 2 and 3 are in my son's hands. As I type he is folding down page corners of images that he wants to use as a inspiration to draw. He is SO excited about these books!

James Gurney said...

CT, so glad to know he found his way to the Nuthin' but Mech books. They're a labor of love for all the artists who participate in them, and the participants are some of the top people designing for movies and games. We just put the finishing touches on Book 4.

CT said...

Oh! We will keep a lookout! Please post when it becomes available! My son has produced three sketches inspired by Nuthin' but Mech and is in LOVE with these books. He geeks out over all - and explains (his version of) the functionality of - all the minute details. What is special about these books is the wide variety of styles and themes -- all exceptionally high quality.

Pierre Fontaine said...

I just discovered this entry on your blog. I've had a life-long fascination with puppetry and have never heard of Mr. Teschner. Thanks so much for sharing this!