Press RoomPress ReleasesHigh Museum of Art to Present Retrospective of Acclaimed Children’s Book Artist Eric Carle

High Museum of Art to Present Retrospective of Acclaimed Children’s Book Artist Eric Carle

December 2, 2015

Exhibition on view in conjunction with a world premiere play based on Carle’s book “Pancakes, Pancakes!” presented by the Alliance Theatre

ATLANTA, Dec. 2, 2015 — The High Museum of Art will present “I See a Story: The Art of Eric Carle,” a retrospective of the beloved, bestselling children’s book artist and author, from April 2, 2016, through Jan. 8, 2017.

Carle (American, born 1929) is widely acclaimed as the creator of brilliantly illustrated and innovatively designed picture books for young children, including such familiar favorites as “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “The Grouchy Ladybug.” The High is the sole venue for this exhibition, which will feature works spanning nearly five decades of Carle’s richly productive career. The exhibition will explore the artist’s varied subjects, personal interests, materials and techniques and take visitors on an educational journey, celebrating the unique ways Carle’s books offer opportunities for children to learn.

“Eric Carle has created some of the most recognizable and enjoyable books ever written for young children,” said Virginia Shearer, the Eleanor McDonald Storza director of education at the High. “We are honored to feature his work and celebrate the profound impact his books have had on the lives and learning of children for generations.”

Ellen Keiter, chief curator of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass., said, “Carle’s classic stories, endearing characters and stunningly beautiful collages appeal to young readers and adults alike. Visitors will revel in his original works just as eagerly as they anticipate each turn of the page in his timeless tales.”

Organized by The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, Mass., the exhibition will feature more than 80 collages from 16 of Carle’s most popular books. “I See a Story” will also feature a selection of his independent works and ephemera.

To create his signature collage illustrations, Carle uses acrylics paints to cover white tissue paper with vibrant, abstract patterns. He then cuts and tears the papers and pastes the different shapes onto illustration board to form his dynamic images. Visitors will be able to see the fine details and intricate patterns that emerge in Carle’s work from this layered collage technique.

The exhibition will begin with works from Carle’s first illustrated story, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” (1967) and continue through to his heartwarming 2013 title “Friends.” “I See a Story” will explore the inspiration for Carle’s tales, including his love of nature, common childhood experiences and his own memories of being a child.

Highlights in the exhibition will include:

  • Original collages of the beloved characters Brown Bear, Yellow Duck and Green Frog from “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” (1967)
  • Five iconic works from the 1987 edition of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” as well as a giant 40-by-60-inch illustration titled “The Very Large, Very Hungry Caterpillar,” made specifically for exhibition purposes
  • The rarely displayed original collage of the enormous eight-page blue whale from “The Grouchy Ladybug” (1976)
  • A collection of preliminary mock-ups for Carle’s books; a selection of his tissue papers, paints and tools; and his paint-splattered smock and shoes

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Alliance Theatre at The Woodruff Arts Center, of which the High is also an arts partner, will present the world premiere play with music“Pancakes, Pancakes!” (June 1 through July 3, 2016), based on Carle’s book of the same name, with a script adapted by Kenneth Lin and directed by David de Vries.

This collaboration is the second in a series presented by the High and the Alliance Theatre. The Eric Carle project follows the successful exhibition and theatre productions based on the work of children’s book author and artist Mo Willems in 2015. The presentations are made possible through a grant to The Woodruff Arts Center from the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation to expand programming and increase access for family audiences. As part of the collaboration, the Alliance Theatre will also present a new Theatre for the Very Young production based on Carle’s book “From Head to Toe,” directed by Rosemary Newcott (fall 2016).

“I See a Story” will be presented on the Lower Level of the High’s Wieland Pavilion and will feature a reading area for young visitors to engage with Carle’s stories in the Greene Family Learning Gallery.

About Eric Carle
Born in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1929, Carle moved with his parents to Germany when he was 6 years old. He was educated there and graduated from the prestigious art school the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Stuttgart. His dream was always to return to America, the land of his happiest childhood memories. In 1952 he finally arrived back in New York, where he found work as a graphic designer in the promotion department of The New York Times. Later, he was an art director at an advertising agency for many years.

Carle’s literary career began in 1967 when respected educator and author Bill Martin Jr. asked Carle to illustrate a story he had written. “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” is the result of their collaboration and is still a favorite with children everywhere. Soon Carle was writing his own stories. His first wholly original book was “1, 2, 3 to the Zoo” (1968), followed afterward by the celebrated classic “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” (1969).

Carle’s books have been read by millions of children all over the world and have been translated into 62 languages. Today, Carle has illustrated more than 70 books, many of them best sellers, most of which he also wrote. More than 132 million copies of his books have sold worldwide.

Carle and his late wife Barbara Carle co-founded The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass., in 2002.

Exhibition Organization and Support
“I See a Story: The Art of Eric Carle” is organized by The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass. Support is provided by the Inaugural Grandparents Circle of Support: Spring and Tom Asher, Jane and Dameron Black, Lucinda W. Bunnen, Anne Cox Chambers, Ann and Tom Cousins, Shearon and Taylor Glover, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., Joy and Tony Greene, Ellen and Tom Harbin, Mary Ellen and John Imlay, Sarah and Jim Kennedy, Jane and Hicks Lanier, Rene and Jim Nalley, Martha and Mark Pentecost, Margaret and Terry Stent, Margaretta Taylor, and an anonymous donor. Additional support has been generously provided by the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation.

The exhibition is curated by Ellen Keiter, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, and Virginia Shearer and Ginia Sweeney, High Museum of Art.

About the High Museum of Art
The High is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. With more than 15,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American art; a significant collection of historic and contemporary decorative arts and design; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography, folk and self-taught art, and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists. For more information about the High, visit

About The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is one of the largest arts centers in the world, home to the Tony Award–winning Alliance Theatre, the Grammy Award–winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the High Museum of Art, the leading art museum in the Southeast. Each year, these centers of artistic excellence play host to more than 1.2 million patrons at The Woodruff Arts Center’s midtown Atlanta location, one of the only arts centers in the United States to host both visual and performing arts on a single campus. The Woodruff Arts Center also offers remarkable educational programming through each of its arts partners. Through the combined efforts of its arts partners, The Woodruff Arts Center serves more than 300,000 students annually and is the largest arts educator in Georgia.

About The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
The mission of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, in Amherst, Mass., 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. For more information, visit

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High Museum of Art
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