“His art was not modern for the sake of modern. [It] could be a kind of very distilled visual language that could be understood by just about anyone, from a 2-year-old to an illiterate peasant in Russia.” – Leonard Marcus, children’s literature scholar and curator.
With Spring in the air, there is not a more perfect, classic artist to showcase than Leonard Weisgard. Known mainly for his collaborations with Margaret Wise Brown, Weisgard’s illustrated works are staples in the libraries of children’s literature enthusiasts. (Read this fantastic article about how Margaret Wise Brown and Leonard Weisgard’s collaborations revolutionized children’s literature!)
Bursting with color and fine detail, Weisgard’s work was honored with the Caldecott Medal in 1947 for The Little Island, written by Brown. The beauty in his depictions promote such a slow contemplation of the world around us. According to the article linked above, Brown actually sought out Weisgard because she felt that there “weren’t enough wildflowers in children’s books.” In 1970, Weisgard moved to Denmark the protest the Vietnam war. He died there in 2000. Look below for a (very) small sampling of his contribution to the art and literature worlds. Happy Spring!
It's been a bit since we've posted a Master's Showcase (or past posts have included looks at Leo Lionni, the Provensens and Mary Blair) but with Spring just around the corner, we were reminded of the great Barbara Cooney, who brought us Miss Rumphius. If you haven't read the story about a woman who spreads flower seeds across the land in order to make the Earth more beautiful, do yourself a favor and high-tail it to the children's section at your library.
Barbara Cooney (1917-2000) was an American Caldecott medal-winning illustrator, who wrote and/or created the artwork for countless classic children's books, such as Ox-Cart Man, The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story, Little Women, Eleanor and Chanticleer and the Fox. Some of her work (particularly that from Ox-Cart Man and Louhi, The Witch of the North Farm), is sometimes reminiscent of beautiful scenes or landscapes from the middle ages, with similar color and detail. We even spy a style reminiscent of our own Red Cap artists, Becca Stadtlander and Anna Emilia Laitinen. Have fun mulling through some of our favorite photos below, and do some digging on your own as well to see more of a master at work!
We hope you're up for another Master's Showcase, because today we are covering master illustrator and children's book author, Leo Lionni. No children's library is complete without one of the countless titles written or illustrated by Leo Lionni (we highly recommend Swimmy, Fish is Fish , or A Color of His Own!)
Leo Lionni was a writer and illustrator of Italian descent who grew up in the Netherlands. His first job was as an advertising art director, working with companies such as Chrysler and Ford, and eventually became the art director at Fortune magazine. Later in life, his personal paintings began to attract attention in shows across the world, and he began his illustration and writing career, winning the Caldecott medal a record four times, for Inch by Inch (1961), Swimmy (1964), Frederick (1968), and Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse (Pinwheel Books) (1970). He died at his home in Tuscany in 1999.
His illustrations are vibrant and colorful, always centering around a character who is different, but special. We absolutely adore the reading and animation for Swimmy, below. Take a look and pick up some of his books–you won't be disappointed!
Oh how we heart our Master's Showcase series! It's so fun to flip through the vintage illustrations of legendary artists, illustrators and animators that offer inspiration to all.
This week we're highlighting Alice and Martin Provensen: a married couple who illustrated over forty children's book together, and wrote nineteen between the 1940s and 1970s. They even won the Caldecott Medal for their artistic work in the book, The Glorious Flight. Martin Provensen illustrated the first ever depiction of Tony the Tiger for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes. Some of their most popular published works include The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown, The Animal Fair and The Provensen Book of Fairy Tales. Their distinctive, playful illustration style is an inspiration to many modern artists and is recognizable as a classic. Martin passed away in 1987, survived by his wife, Alice, who is still creating beautiful work today.
We are starting a brand new series on our blog, called Master's Showcase! There is a list of illustrators who have paved the way for artists today that we wanted to honor with a special place on our blog and in our hearts. From children's books to animations, these artists influenced and inspired us with our own work! First up in the series, the late, great Mary Blair.
Mary Blair is best known for her work with Disney–she worked on a huge amount of concept and animation art on early Disney films like Dumbo, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Lady and the Tramp. Afterward, she had a successful career as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, working in advertising with companies like Nabisco and Maxwell House and illustrating many children's books. She even designed a few attractions at Disneyland, such as the It's a Small World ride. Her work is colorful and fanciful and absolutely inspirational. We love her work and gathered a few fun pieces below:
And don't forget this weekend we have our big show happening at Gallery Nucleus! Come see Greetings and Salutations: A Collaboration with Red Cap Cards, opening on April 25th from 7-10. Check out the Facebook invite here.