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Past Exhibitions

Eric Carle: I See a Story

March 12, 2016–February 12, 2017

Eric Carle (American, born 1929) is one of the most acclaimed and beloved illustrators of our time. I See a Story: The Art of Eric Carle explores the artist’s varied subjects, personal interests, materials, and artistic techniques through more than 80 original artworks spanning his career.

I See a Story: The Art of Eric Carle is organized by The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Overview

The creator of more than seventy books, Eric Carle combines winsome stories and exuberant collages that appeal to young readers and adults alike. The exhibition presents original artwork spanning five decades of Carle’s picture-book career. On view are illustrations ranging from his 1967 collaboration Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  to Friends, his heartwarming story published in 2013, and many familiar titles in between.

While Carle’s stories are charming, they’re layered with information too. As children read his books about animals, families, and fables, they also learn their colors, numbers, and letters. Carle makes learning accessible and fun—and in the process, he invites children to fall in love with books. I See a Story  celebrates Carle’s contributions to art and children’s literature.


Eric Carle

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.


Collage Technique

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.

Organization and Support

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by The Lettie Pate Evans Foundation and the Inaugural Grandparents Circle of Support: Spring and Tom Asher, Jane and Dameron Black, Lucinda W. Bunnen, Anne Cox Chambers, Ann and Tom Cousins, Shearon and Taylor Glover, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., Joy and Tony Greene, Ellen and Tom Harbin, Mary Ellen and John Imlay, Sarah and Jim Kennedy, Jane and Hicks Lanier, Rene and Jim Nalley, Margaret and Terry Stent, Margaretta Taylor, and an anonymous donor.