Nijntje creator Dick Bruna dead at 89
Dutch artist Dick Bruna died Thursday night at the age of 89. Bruna, best known as the creator of cartoon rabbit Nijntje, passed away in his hometown of Utrecht, according to his publisher.
Over 85 million copies of his books in the “Nijntje” series, or “Miffy” in the English-speaking world, have been sold worldwide. The books are still published in at least 50 languages.
His seemingly simple, clear drawings were often drawn over and over again until the artist thought they were perfect. “I create a world that children fill with their own imagination,” Bruna said, according to the Nijntje Museum in Utrecht.
“Bruna’s distinctive style of clearly drawn lines, primary colours and two-dimensional abstract forms shines through in the book covers he designed for detective novels like The Shadow (Havank) and Maigret (Georges Simenon) from the Zwarte Beertjes editions, posters for A.W. Bruna & Zn. publishers and the Nederlandse Melkunie, and designs for Miffy,” the Rijksmuseum said in its description of the exhibit.”
Avant-garde artists Henri Matisse, Bart van der Leck and Fernand Léger served as Bruna’s inspiration, the Rijksmuseum exhibit’s curator, Caro Verbeek, noted in a 2015 interview. “Artists like Rietveld and Picasso praised his work for its simplicity and clarity,” Verbeek told NOS.
The last Nijntje book was released in 2011. The character was first drawn while Bruna was on holiday, and is based on bedtime stories he used to make up about a white bunny that used to bound around the garden of the family’s holiday home in Egmond aan Zee.