Exhibit | August 11, 2014

Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of <i>Madeline</i> at the Eric Carle Museum

Amherst, MA (August 11, 2014)—The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is proud to present Madeline at 75: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans, on view from November 15 through February 22, 2015 in Amherst. The exhibition, which celebrates the 75th anniversary of the publication of the classic Madeline, honors the plucky schoolgirl in Paris and her creator with more than 90 rarely seen works. Madeline at 75 was organized by The Carle and curated by Jane Bayard Curley. It premiered at the New-York Historical Society in July, where it will remain on view through October 19. This is the first exhibition devoted to Bemelmans in more than 50 years.

A natural storyteller who drew and wrote with fluency, Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1962) artfully blended childhood memories with his experiences as an adult to create Madeline, published in 1939. His story about a precocious young girl’s adventures at boarding school was hugely successful, and Bemelmans went on to publish five more Madeline stories. He also developed the idea for Madeline at the White House with Jacqueline Kennedy. That book was eventually written by his grandson John Bemelmans Marciano and published in 2011.

“Bemelmans was one of many brilliant 20th century European artists who found his true home in New York.  It’s fitting that this exhibition debuted at the New-York Historical Society,” said Carle Executive Director Alexandra Kennedy. “It was met with record crowds and huge critical success. We are excited to bring his work to The Carle in November.”

Exhibition Highlights

The exhibition will explore Ludwig Bemelmans's career through more than 90 works, many recently rediscovered, including drawings, paintings, specially commissioned 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 will provide insights into Bemelmans's creative process.

Other highlights include:

  • the crayon and watercolor drawing One nice morning Miss Clavel said, depicting Miss Clavel rounding-up the twelve little girls in a picturesque Paris park with the Arc de Triomphe in the distance
  • scenes from Madeline and the Bad Hat of the girls' visit to the zoo showing some of Pepito's mischievous antics, including setting free caged tropical birds with vibrant plumage
  • the oil painting Madeline at the Paris Flower Market (1955), an iconic image of Bemelmans’s heroine and alter-ego that captures Madeline’s character: cosmopolitan, curious, courageous,  adventurous, and a lover of animals

The exhibition will examine Bemelmans’s entire career, from his rarely-seen early comics to his celebrated, sometimes tumultuous life as a bon vivant, hotelier, and restaurateur. Examples include covers of the satirical Judge magazine in 1930 and 1932, his comic "Noodles the Trained Seal" in the Saturday Evening Post in 1933, and the complete set of illustrations for a Town & Country magazine article titled "Adieu to the Old Ritz." Published on the occasion of the classic hotel's closing in 1950, the article concludes with the drawing Ok, Boys - Take it away, capturing a workman swinging a sledgehammer to demolish the grand interior. A few rare examples of Bemelmans's commissioned work also will be on view, including two panels from murals created for the children's playroom of Aristotle Onassis’s yacht The Christina in 1953.

Support for Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans has been generously provided by Mr. and Mrs. Charles M. Royce and The Walton Family Foundation. 

Programming and Additional Information

The Madeline at 75: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans Members’ Opening reception is November 15th.  Opening weekend activities will include a visit from the Madeline costumed character, an afternoon tea featuring a Paris-inspired menu, a guided gallery tour, and readings of some favorite Madeline books.  

Accompanying the exhibition is a 48-page illustrated catalogue with an afterword by illustrator Maira Kalman and an essay by exhibition curator Jane Bayard Curley. Copies are available in The Carle Bookshop. 

To commemorate the 75th anniversary, Penguin has reissued a lavish slip-cased edition of the original Madeline, with a full-color panoramic pop-up spread of Paris featuring famous landmarks including Madeline’s house. A special collection of Madeline merchandise for all ages commemorating Madeline's 75th anniversary has been developed by YOTTOY Productions of New York.

About The Carle

The mission of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, a non-profit organization in Amherst, MA, is to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books.  The only full-scale museum of its kind in the United States, The Carle collects, preserves, presents, and celebrates picture books and picture book illustrations from around the world.  In addition to underscoring the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of picture books and their art form, The Carle offers educational programs that provide a foundation for arts integration and literacy. 

Eric and Barbara Carle founded the Museum in November 2002.  Eric Carle is the renowned author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including the 1969 classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Since opening, the 40,000-square foot facility has served more than half a million visitors, including 30,000 schoolchildren.  Its extensive resources include a collection of more than 12,000 picture book illustrations, three art galleries, an art studio, a theater, picture book and scholarly libraries, and educational programs for families, scholars, educators, and schoolchildren.  Educational offerings include professional training for educators around the country.  Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 12 noon to 5 p.m.  Open Mondays in July and August and during MA school vacation weeks.  Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for children under 18, and $22.50 for a family of four. For further information and directions, call 413-658-1100 or visit the Museum’s website at www.carlemuseum.org.