Katonah Museum of Art Exhibition, Children Should Be Seen: The Image of the Child in American Picture-Book Art

My wife and I recently saw an exhibit, Children Should Be Seen: The Image of the Child in American Picture-Book Art, at the nearby Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, about forty-five miles north of New York City.

According to the museum:

Children Should Be Seen: The Image of the Child in American Picture-Book Art will bring together approximately 85 works of original children’s book illustrations in a comprehensive survey of the best American picture-book art of the last decade. Organized collaboratively by the KMA and The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, the exhibition celebrates the 10th anniversary of our Learning Center and the 5th anniversary of the Carle Museum.

The exhibit began July 1st and runs until the end of October, and includes personal appearances by some of the artists for discussions and book signings.

On display are the original drawings, paintings, watercolors and collages that were then reproduced in making the book. Though the books are wonderful documents in themselves, only by seeing the original works can you fully appreciate the artist’s skill and artistry, something I noted in an earlier post View Bird’s Eye: John James Audubon.

Then again, it’s also evident that these original works — each of which can stand on its own as a work of art — were each created as part of a set, and were also created to be reproduced. This is most evident with the original of one in the pages in Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat,” the one where the first appears at the door. It consists of several layers, one having the typewritten text, the other having ink outline of the key figures, with some percentage markings written in various panels, a direction to the printer.

Part of the show is a reading room filled with some comfortable furniture and copies of the books represented in this show, so you can see how the works were meant to be presented, and also browse through them.

Here are some of the works that I especially enjoyed:

Chris Van Allsburg, illustrator, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Enchanting drawings, each accompanied by a line of text suggesting a story. (This image is on the Museums’ web site about the show.)

David Wiesner, illustrator, Flotsam The notes mention that Weisner is only the second person to win the Caldecott Medal three times. The image in the show — the one at the start of this wonderful book that has a microscope, binoculars, and magnifying glass — shows the judges were not wrong.

Mo Willems, illustrator, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale. I laughed out loud while reading this book to myself. This is one of the books in the show created using computers, as the image is a combination of drawing and photography in the form of what is called an “archival inkjet print.”

Bagram Ibatoulline, illustrator, Crossing, Phillip Booth, author. A book about trains in time past, when people passed time watching the trains pass.

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