Carle Museum of Picture Book Art Celebrates 50 Years of Brown Bear
Amherst, MA (August 24, 2016) - The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art celebrates the 50th anniversary of the beloved story that launched Eric Carle’s picture-book career—Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr—with the exhibition Brown Bear Turns 50. The exhibition, on view from September 13, 2016 through March 19, 2017, kicks off a year of special events honoring the children’s classic, one of the best-selling picture books of all time. Support for the exhibition and programs has been generously provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.
Published in 1967, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? had an immediate appeal to children and adults alike. Martin’s rhythmic call-and-response text builds anticipation at each turn of the page, while Carle’s bold graphics and colorful parade of animals encourage learning and imagination. Brown Bear has been translated into 31 languages—from Arabic to Vietnamese—and has sold more than 16 million copies. In addition to the original 1967 book, Carle re-illustrated editions in 1970, 1984, and 1992.
In Brown Bear Turns 50 artwork from every page of the famous book will be on display. One of only two surviving collages from the 1967 edition—Brown Bear himself—has been faithfully restored and is on view for the first time. The exhibition also includes a medley of Carle’s collages from the three additional “bear books” he worked on with Martin: Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? (1991), Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? (2003), and Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? (2007). “We’re excited that Eric Carle’s original artwork from 1967 is on view,” says Chief Curator Ellen Keiter. “By displaying his collages from various editions of the book—for example, the goldfish from 1967, 1984, and 1992—visitors to the exhibition can trace the changes in Carle’s compositions and materials over the years.” Keiter adds, “We also have a large selection of foreign language books on display, signifying the world-wide impact Brown Bear has had.” In a separate endeavor, The Carle has also sent the book’s famous characters to the main streets and outdoor spaces of its hometown in Amherst with a special outdoor public exhibition, Brown Bear Everywhere, on view through October 9, 2016. Fourteen high-quality reproductions of Carle’s original collage illustrations are currently on display at some of Amherst’s popular restaurants, schools, and recreational sites.
Carle’s History with Brown Bear
Carle never planned on a career in children’s books. He graduated from art school and, for over a decade, worked in New York City as an art director and a freelance graphic designer. Everything changed in the late 1960s when Martin, a respected educator and author, noticed one of Carle’s collage advertisements featuring a red lobster. “The art was so striking,” said Martin, “that I knew instantly I had found the artist to illustrate my next book.” That book was Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and it transformed Carle’s life—today he is one of the most acclaimed and beloved illustrators of our time.