After months of having to close its doors to the public, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Massachusetts has reopened. I was thrilled. The number of visitors and safety procedures were controlled, yet the experience was full and open – I was once again a child on discovery.
And discover, I did.
In my customary note of appreciation to the museum I said,
“It always astounds me that every single visit to the Eric Carle Museum is nothing short of remarkable. Really. Today was no exception. The angels exhibit was nothing at all like what I expected, and one of the best exhibits I have seen.”
As a member of the museum, I was greeted so warmly upon my return by the staff- like an old friend. They gave me extra copies of their spring newsletter (where I am featured), and asked to take my picture. I shared some stories of past visits, and heard “That was you?” It was a lovely “welcome back.”
Eric Carle has a new exhibition- Angels. I imagined it would be soft colors, sky and clouds, perhaps tissue paper art. I was very wrong. Walking into the exhibit, I immediately saw it was An Homage to Paul Klee.
Wait a minute. Of course. Paul Klee, one of the “degenerate, forbidden artists”. An artist who was instrumental in shaping Carle’s style of art. An artist he revered.
When Eric Carle studied art in Germany, at the height of WWII, his art teacher risked his own life to show Carle the art of Matisse, Picasso, Kandinsky, and Klee. That changed Carle’s life.
I will never forget learning that. In many ways, it changed my life, too.
Here’s the interesting part; Klee was a big fan of angels, and Carle was not. Yet, at nearly 90 years of age Carle is drawn to making the art of angels. He is pulled to Klee, and feels the need to pay homage, say thank you, and make his interpretation of the art Klee loved.
Angelus Novus by Paul Klee
Yet, it is deeper than that.
Eric Carle has always enjoyed self expression in his children’s books. His art is among the best. His children’s books have a theme and a focus, and his art follows suit. Now, he has made art that is unbridled – there is no children’s book, there is art in a joyous and deeply moving way.
I couldn’t get enough of this angel. The wings, the thick paint, the face…
This angel is playful, almost celebratory.
Look closely at the fingers and body. Using ‘tools’ on hand makes a wonderful angel.
This angel was perhaps my favorite. I love the paint!
There is more! Stay tuned for the Maira Kalman exhibit which was on display as well. I found a fabulous book she wrote, which I must share with you tomorrow.