Federico Fellini: The Book of Dreams

by David Kramer

Federico Fellini, Untitled, 1962. © by Fondazione Federico Fellini.

Rizzoli, 2008

What makes dreams so confounding and revealing is their juxtaposition of things known or remembered with the complete mysteries that lurk in the subconscious. For almost 30 years of his life, legendary Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini notated and illustrated his dreams every morning after waking. He referred to this as his “night work,” and his transcriptions and drawings are collected in Rizzoli’s new The Book of Dreams. At the whopping size of a Manhattan phone book, the collection includes Fellini’s drawings as well as descriptions of his dreams from 1960 through 1990, three years before his death.

Federico Fellini, Untitled, 1961. © by Fondazione Federico Fellini.

Fellini’s vivid recollections of his dreams sparkle with the lurid appeal and detail characterizing his films . . . like the one about floating in the basket of a hot air balloon with the Pope. Or having a mountain-sized Venus blow clouds from her mouth. Or the one about the monstrous clitoris that straddles the bed you’re sleeping on. His drawings, which, like his writing, improve as the book progresses, are surreal and cartoonish images somewhat in the style of R. Crumb. Women with giant breasts and huge eyes abound—usually in tight dresses and heels, or naked—surrounded by tiny men with speech bubbles. About a year after Fellini’s death, his dream journals were deposited into a bank vault. This will stipulated that they could be removed only when his six heirs were present. After 14 years of bickering and bureaucracy, they have finally been released as an entryway into the unconscious of this visionary filmmaker.

Federico Fellini, Untitled, 1966. © by Fondazione Federico Fellini.

David Kramer is a New York City-based artist. He has upcoming exhibitions at Aeroplastics Contemporary in Brussels, Birch Libralato in Toronto, Galleria Traghetto in Rome, and Armand Bartos Fine Art in New York.

Italian film
BOMB 105
Fall 2008
The cover of BOMB 105