Wednesday, November 19, 2014

EXHIBITION: BEMELMANS! Beloved "Madeline" illustrator's work comes to Amherst, MA

“I sketch with facility and speed,” Bemelmans wrote. “The drawing 
has to sit on the paper as if you smacked a spoon of whipped cream on a plate.” 

Madeline at the Paris Flower Market (1955)

In honor of her 75th birthday, the ever-adorable Madeline, along with her creator Ludwig Bemelmans, will be feted in an exhibition running through Feb. 22, 2015 at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, located on the campus of Hampshire College in Amherst, MA.

"They left the house at half past nine
In two straight lines in rain or shine --
The smallest one was Madeline."

The show explores the iconic illustrator's legacy in a display of more than 90 works: drawings, paintings, magazine covers, comic books, specially commissioned room interiors and objects, archival photographs, and memorabilia such as the artist’s paintbox. Also on view are the original Madeline manuscript and original drawings from all the Madeline books, which illuminate Bemelmans' creative process.

He painted many fantastical wall murals, including those that encircle the interior of the bar at New York's Hotel Carlyle -- now known, of course, as Bemelmans. (See photos below.) A few rare examples of his other commissioned work will be on view at the Carle Museum, including two panels from murals created for the children's playroom of Aristotle Onassis’s yacht The Christina in 1953.

Bemelmans led a sometimes tumultuous life as a bon vivant, hotelier, and restaurateur. 
“I like to write for children because I suffer from a sort of arrested development," he said. 
"I am about six years old really, and I am constantly surprised by everything." 

You can listen here to an interview with exhibition curator Jane Curley
on WAMC/Northeast Public Radio's "Roundtable" show.

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