In his childhood, Tomi Ungerer was accustomed to draw and sketch in notebooks. He often drew from nature, showing a keen sense of observation of the world around him. Having reached adulthood, he continued to engage in this exercise essential for an artist to master his trait. In the 1960s, when he lived in New York, he filled many sketchbooks in preparation of his satirical drawings and work in advertising. Among other topics, they contain sketches of animals featuring human characteristics in the tradition of fabulists to serve as support to social satire. These three thin volumes feature drawings of elephants, whales, kangaroos and a handful of camels selected from one of these sketchbooks.
Tomi Ungerer is considered one of the most brilliant draftsman and illustrator of the twentieth century. Born in Strasbourg in 1931, he has continued his diverse and prolific career since 1957, marked by boldness and freedom of expression in the fields of advertising, children’s books and satire. His children's books have become classics of the genre, honoured by the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen prize. The Three Robbers, Zeralda's Ogre and The Beast of Monsieur Racine among others have overturned taboos in children's literature.
It is still with this same talent Tomi Ungerer addresses graphic genres such as commercial illustration, erotic and satirical drawings, and artistic expressions including collage and sculpture. The poster Black Power / White Power and posters against the Vietnam War designed in the 1960s are considered icons of the genre. This oeuvre of multiple forms however follows a common thread: the observation of our civilization. No detail escapes Tomi Ungerer’s inquisitive eye, mercylessly targeting society, time and death, war, injustice and intolerance. As a master of drawing, he is one of the last one today to perpetuate the tradition of Gustave Doré, Honoré Daumier and Wilhelm Busch.
The Tomi Ungerer Museum – International Center for Illustration, opened in 2007 in Strasbourg. It houses an exceptional collection of artwork by the artist and has it on view in regular thematic exhibitions. Thérèse Willer
3 books with 16 / 12 / 12 pages