A New Exhibit, Eric Carle’s Art Comes Full Circle…and More

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.

8E009658-4DA7-43CC-8C94-A82B95C7DA137755D9F9-606B-4551-8343-2D367768714DI couldn’t get enough of this angel.  The wings, the thick paint, the face…

1041CCFC-7529-4651-A600-C3E7394C7794This angel is playful, almost celebratory.

D0ED693A-1C47-4C3E-BD47-CE33624C4592Look closely at the fingers and body.  Using ‘tools’ on hand makes a wonderful angel.

2A8CE1E1-6FF9-409B-B2DF-3A016FEE1AA1This 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.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in art, Eric Carle, Expressing words and feelings, Giving thanks, Inspiration, museums, The Arts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to A New Exhibit, Eric Carle’s Art Comes Full Circle…and More

  1. Norah says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing, Jennie. I would never have got to see them otherwise. The work of two amazing artists in one.

  2. Ritu says:

    These are just inspiring! Norah is right, without you posting this, we would never have got to see them!

  3. Opher says:

    I love the Klee! I saw a fabulous exhibition of Klees in London. So original.

  4. Dan Antion says:

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful paintings and the information, Jennie. I’m looking forward to returning to some museums in the fall.

  5. beth says:

    Oh, j can’t wait to see this one day!

  6. So interesting, Jennie; I knew nothing about this!

  7. beetleypete says:

    He took that and ran with it. It shows how well he understands children, as I bet they all ‘get it’ immediately.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      He really did. Imagine being so creative at nearly 90 years of age. I think children will totally get it. They’ll probably see more detail and subtle points than we do. Best to you, Pate.

  8. The textures, colors, and creativity are wonderful. Thanks for sharing this exhibit with us, Jennie!

  9. Fascinating, Jenny! Thanks for sharing…

  10. I loved this story of how people risked death to preserve and share art. I’m always amazed that someone, anyone feels they have the right to say what is appropriate art or writing and what is not. Thank you for sharing this.

  11. Thank you for sharing your latest visit to the Eric Carle Museum! I hadn’t heard of Paul Klee; it was interesting to learn a little bit about him. Looking at Carle’s Angels painting, what immediately came to mind was, “Dance like there’s nobody watching.” Make art like there’s nobody watching!

  12. frenchc1955 says:

    Hi Jennie, thank you so much for this. I miss going to museums.

  13. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is another wonderful post from Jennie, the excellent teacher!

  14. I am always amazed by the imagination of some people, Jennie. They create the most incredible things. A gorgeous post.

  15. Léa says:

    Always the teacher you never fail to inspire us. I shall forward this post to my friend in Sacramento. She is an artist (non-blogger) and will enjoy it. Perhaps it will motivate her to go see the exhibit but I don’t keep up on the travel restrictions there if there are any in place?

    For some reason, WP is not allowing me to click any likes at all and few of the posts are allowing me to comment?

    • Jennie says:

      If I inspire someone, that is as good as it gets. Thank you, Lea! The exhibit will be there for a while. At the moment people, entering the state are asked to self quarantine for 14 days, but it is voluntary. Our daughter flew in from Oregon a few weeks ago and there were no issues.

      • Léa says:

        I sent her the post and as she is coming from Sacramento (not a hot-spot) not what we in France would call a green space virus wise, they would probably want her to quarantine. Hopefully she could check that out online before deciding as that would make a difference. Thank you Jennie.

      • Jennie says:

        You’re welcome, Lea. I hope it works out. Keep me posted.

  16. Thank you for sharing these wonderful expressions, from your visit there. Its wonderful they now have reopened.

  17. casparlatete says:

    I’m indebted to you for bringing this artist to my attention, did my ‘daimon muse’ lead me here I wonder ? I read a reference to the fact that Walter Benjamin owned a drawing of one of Paul Klee’s angels which Benjamin thought was, ‘looking backwards in horror at the course of human history’. Curiosity led me to look up Klee’s angel drawings which hadn’t rang any bells & this in turn led me to this website & these great collages,

    The last post on this thread was nearly a year ago, do you know if Carle is still ‘with us’? You say at the time of his exhibition he was in his 90s – if only he had more time.
    At nearly Carle’s age, Hokusai thought he was only just beginning.

    • Jennie says:

      Isn’t it wonderful when one reading leads us to more? It’s like finding buried treasure. Thank you for telling me your Paul Klee story. I am still ‘locked on’ to my early visit at the Carle museum, standing and reading the exhibit on his early years as an art student in Nazi Germany. Klee was one of five artists that Carle’s art teacher (risking his life) introduced to him.

      Of course Benjamin’s thoughts on Klee’s Angel drawings was absolutely correct. This was Nazi Germany. The exhibit, which was Carle’s last work of art, was spectacular. There were angels of darkness, playful angels, and everything in between. I’m glad that Eric Carle paid homage to Klee. It is full circle for him.

      Sadly, Eric Carle died in May. His work is extraordinary, and Klee (along with Kandinsky, Matisse, Picasso, and Marc) was a big influence.

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