Eric Carle was born on June 25, 1929, in Syracuse, New York. His parents, Erich and Johanna, were childhood sweethearts who had emigrated from Germany a few years earlier. Life in Syracuse was happy for Carle. He fondly recalls his sunny kindergarten classroom supplied with large sheets of paper and colorful paints. His teacher, Miss Frickey, encouraged Carle’s artistic abilities.
Feeling homesick, his parents made the decision to move the family from Syracuse to Germany when Carle was six years old. They settled in Stuttgart, where Carle spent the rest of his youth. His life was gravely affected by World War II, but he found solace in drawing and studying commercial art at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Stuttgart, where he graduated at the top of his class.
After returning to the United States in the early 1950s, Carle worked for some years as a graphic designer. Author and educator Bill Martin Jr. was drawn to Carle’s advertising work, leading the two to collaborate on their classic 1967 book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? In the years since, Carle has authored and illustrated over seventy books beloved by generations of children.
© Eric Carle
The exhibition includes original collage illustrations from sixteen of Eric Carle’s picture books. To create these vibrant images, Carle uses an innovative tissue-paper collage technique that he began developing as an art student in Germany.
Carle begins by painting the surface of sheets of white tissue paper with abstract patterns. He uses paintbrushes, squares of carpet, and any other tool available to create interesting textures and layered effects. For very large pieces, he even paints with a broom. After allowing the paint to dry, Carle sorts and stores the papers by the main color of each: these become his palette. After planning the form of each illustration, Carle cuts and glues pieces of his painted papers to a larger sheet. The finished works are remarkable for their dimension and detail.