The High Museum of Art will present “I See a Story: The Art of Eric Carle,” a retrospective of the beloved, bestselling children’s book artist and author, from April 2, 2016, through Jan. 8, 2017.
Carle (American, born 1929) is widely acclaimed as the creator of brilliantly illustrated and innovatively designed picture books for young children, including such familiar favorites as “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “The Grouchy Ladybug.” The High is the sole venue for this exhibition, which will feature works spanning nearly five decades of Carle’s richly productive career. The exhibition will explore the artist’s varied subjects, personal interests, materials and techniques and take visitors on an educational journey, celebrating the unique ways Carle’s books offer opportunities for children to learn.
“Eric Carle has created some of the most recognizable and enjoyable books ever written for young children,” said Virginia Shearer, the Eleanor McDonald Storza director of education at the High. “We are honored to feature his work and celebrate the profound impact his books have had on the lives and learning of children for generations.”
Organized by The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, Mass., the exhibition will feature more than 80 collages from 15 of Carle’s most popular books, including many original works rarely on view. “I See a Story” will also feature a selection of his self-portraits and ephemera.
To create his signature collage illustrations, Carle paints white tissue papers with acrylics to achieve the vibrant colors and patterns he desires. He then cuts and tears the papers and adheres the different shapes onto illustration board. Visitors will be able to see the fine details and intricate patterns that emerge in Carle’s work from this layered collage technique.
The exhibition will begin with works from Carle’s first illustrated story, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” (1967) and continue through to his heartwarming 2013 title “Friends.” “I See a Story” will explore the inspiration for Carle’s tales, including his love of nature, common childhood experiences and his own memories of being a child.
Highlights in the exhibition will include:
- Original collages of the beloved characters Brown Bear, Yellow Duck and Green Frog from “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” (1967)
- Five iconic works from the 1987 edition of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” as well as a giant 40-by-60-inch illustration titled “The Very Large, Very Hungry Caterpillar,” made specifically for exhibition purposes
- The rarely displayed original collage of the enormous eight-page blue whale from “The Grouchy Ladybug” (1976)
- A collection of preliminary mock-ups for Carle’s books; a selection of his tissue papers, paints and tools; and his paint-splattered smock and shoes
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Alliance Theatre at The Woodruff Arts Center, of which the High is also an arts partner, will present the world premiere play with music “Pancakes, Pancakes!” (June 1 through July 3, 2016), based on Carle’s book of the same name, with a script adapted by Kenneth Lin and directed by David de Vries.
This collaboration is the second in a series presented by the High and the Alliance Theatre. The Eric Carle project follows the successful exhibition and theatre productions based on the work of children’s book author and artist Mo Willems in 2015. The presentations are made possible through a grant to The Woodruff Arts Center from the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation to expand programming and increase access for family audiences. As part of the collaboration, the Alliance Theatre will also present a new Theatre for the Very Young production based on Carle’s book “From Head to Toe,” directed by Rosemary Newcott (fall 2016).
“I See a Story” will be presented on the Lower Level of the High’s Wieland Pavilion and will feature a reading area for young visitors to engage with Carle’s stories in the Greene Family Learning Gallery.