"Louis Darling: Drawing the Words of Beverly Clearly" Opens May 17 at the Eric Carle Museum
Amherst, MA (February 15, 2016) - The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art presents Louis Darling: Drawing the Words of Beverly Cleary on view May 17 through November 27, 2016. Darling’s iconic images brought Cleary’s beloved characters Ramona, Beezus, Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits, and Ralph S. Mouse to life. The exhibition marks the centenary of Darling’s birth as well as Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday on April 12.
As an illustrator at William Morrow and Company, Darling was assigned to Cleary’s first book, Henry Huggins, in 1950. Thus began their twenty-year association. Darling illustrated most of Cleary’s early books—twelve in total—before his untimely death in 1970. Darling’s vision, matched with Cleary’s words, helped define these stories as modern classics. Her timeless themes—a botched birthday party, a missing dog, anxiety on the first day of school, and a father losing his job—are as relevant today as they were in the 1950’s.
Cleary understood the importance of illustration in her books, and the synchronicity between them seemed clear from the start. “I want to tell you how delighted I am with your illustrations for ‘Henry Huggins,’” she wrote in a letter to Darling in 1950. “You seem to know exactly what I had in mind.”
Darling’s work has inspired many illustrators, especially Tony DiTerlizzi, curator of The Carle’s exhibition. DiTerlizzi, the bestselling author and illustrator of The Spider and The Fly, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Diva and Flea, and many other titles, was introduced to Cleary’s books in elementary school, a generation after they were published. DiTerlizzi visited the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota, where Darling’s wife Lois had donated his archive. “As a fellow illustrator who renders in pen and ink, I wanted to showcase the brilliance of Louis Darling,” says DiTerlizzi. “I combed through sketches, letters and artwork to curate the exhibition. Darling’s illustrations are as vibrant, energetic, chaotic, and lively as ever.”
Louis Darling: Drawing the Words of Beverly Cleary will feature preliminary sketches, finished artwork, correspondence between author and illustrator, and period photographs. DiTerlizzi will also design a unique reading area in the gallery for visitors. “It’s very much inspired by 1950s suburbia,” says Ellen Keiter, chief curator at The Carle. “Our guests will be immersed in the art and era of Darling and Cleary.”
Louis Darling was born in Stamford, Connecticut on April 26, 1916. After completing his art studies at the Grand Central School of Art in New York City in 1937, he went into commercial and fine art. In the 1940s, he began illustrating children’s and young adult books, collaborating with numerous artists and authors. In addition to illustrating his own stories and Cleary’s books, Darling worked in tandem with his wife, Lois Darling, to illustrate Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962). His signature style won him a John Burroughs Medal, awarded annually to the author of a distinguished book of natural history, for The Gull’s Way in 1965. Louis Darling died at the age of fifty-three.
Despite a successful partnership, Darling’s illustrations no longer accompany Cleary’s text. His untimely death while Cleary was still writing forced publishers to hire other artists. They’ve since rebranded the books to appeal to modern audiences. “There is a charm, an allure of visiting a bygone era through the window of Darling’s art,” said DiTerlizzi. “I’m pleased to bring this exhibition to The Carle.”
About the Museum
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 Carle and the late Barbara Carle co-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 serve more than half a million visitors, including 30,000 schoolchildren. The Carle houses more than 13,000 objects, including 6,600 permanent collection illustrations. The Carle has three are 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 and Master’s degree programs in children’s literature with Simmons College. 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.