Every Picture Tells a Story Lecture Series

May 04, 2013
Saturdays, 10:30 a.m.
Farnsworth Auditorium
Inspired by and expanding upon the recently opened exhibition Every Picture Tells a Story: Illustrations by N.C. Wyeth from the Brandywine River Museum, the Farnsworth presents this 4-part lecture series, which traces the illustrative and literary aspects of 20th and 21st century book production. The series will address topics such as various aspects of illustration, the publishing industry, and children’s books. Historian Leonard Marcus will illuminate the history of children’s books, curator Nick Clark will demonstrate that great illustrators are greatly influenced by the tradition of art and that great illustration is great art, illustrator Melissa Sweet will take us behind the scenes of what it takes to create a children’s book today, and art historian Jennifer Greenhill will provide context for N.C. Wyeth's illustrations, addressing the market for book illustrations and the collaborative nature of the process.
"What should our children read?" In this wide-ranging illustrated talk, noted cultural historian Leonard Marcus highlights ten key moments in the lively three-hundred-year-old American debate that has by turns made allies--and enemies--of our nation's publishers, librarians, religious leaders, parents, and educators. Find out how the genteel backwater that was once children's book publishing gradually morphed into big business, and how children's book illustration finally won acceptance as art form.
Lecturer Leonard Marcus has written several acclaimed books about children's literature and the authors and artists who create them, including: Show Me a Story!; The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth; Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children's Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon Along the Way; Minders of Make-Believe; Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon; and A Caldecott Celebration. He currently reviews for The New York Times Book Review among other publications, and has been a featured guest critic on programs such as ABC's Good Morning America, BBC Radio 4, and National Public Radio's All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation.
Serving a larger design and known primarily through reproduction, illustration has long endured inferior status. Recently Norman Rockwell has enjoyed re-evaluation and vindication based on scholars confronting original works of art; he also drew from myriad art-historical sources. This also holds true for the art of picture books. Chief Curator of the Eric Carle Museum, Nick Clark explores the relationships and often direct connections between picture-book art and the canon of history of art. He explores relationships between Eric Carle and Henri Matisse, Ferdinand Leger, and Franz Marc. He investigates Maurice Sendak's debt to Albrecht Dürer, William Blake, and Winslow Homer among others. He illuminates Chris Van Allsburg's admiration of Caspar David Friedrich, Winsor McCay, and M.C. Escher. These are but a few of the sources of inspiration that underscore the thesis that the truly great artists of all genres are deeply steeped in the tradition of art and that great illustration is great art.
Nick Clark is the founding Director of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. He assumed this post in January of 2001. In 2008 he shifted his responsibilities to become Chief Curator. Previously, while Curator of American Art at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, he co-curated, along with Michael Patrick Hearn and Trinkett Clark, the exhibition Myth, Magic, and Mystery: One Hundred Years of American Children’s Book Illustration which resulted in the book of the same title.
Where do ideas come from and how is a picture book made? Award-winning author and illustrator Melissa Sweet will talk about creating children's books with slides of her process, including her newest book, A SPLASH OF RED: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant. This book shares the story of a self-taught African American artist who overcame poverty, racism, disability and war to become an American master. N.C. Wyeth, who knew Horace Pippin from Pennsylvania, wrote of Pippin's art: "It is some of the purest expression I have seen in a long time."
Lecturer Melissa Sweet has illustrated nearly 100 children’s books from board books to picture books and nonfiction titles. Her collages and paintings have appeared in the New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Madison Park Greetings, Smilebox and for eeBoo Toys, which have garnered the Oppenheim and Parents Choice Awards. Prior to A SPLASH OF RED, Melissa Sweet and Jen Bryant collaborated on the Caldecott-winning A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams. Sweet's book, Carmine: A Little More Red, was a New York Times Best Illustrated book in 2005. She also wrote and illustrated Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade, which garnered the Sibert Medal for nonfiction.
This lecture explores the visual strategies employed by illustrators like N. C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, and Norman Rockwell to transport viewers-into the adventure of a story, for example, or to the store to buy a product. By considering their techniques in relation to the advertising trade literature that emerged in the early-twentieth-century and period theories of the workings of the imagination, the lecture demonstrates the complexity of commercial imagery in these years, whether story illustration, magazine cover, or product advertisement.
Lecturer Jennifer A. Greenhill is an assistant professor of Art History, Criticism and Interpretive Theory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of Playing It Straight: Art and Humor in the Gilded Age (University of California Press, 2012) and a co-editor of A Companion to American Art (forthcoming 2014, Wiley-Blackwell Press). Her current book project, The Commercial Imagination, explores the conceptual and haptic dimensions of commercial illustration in the early twentieth century.
Location: Farnsworth auditorium
Cost: Series reservation(s)— $80 nonmembers, $50 Farnsworth members, $35 educators (educators please call 207-596-0949 for reservations)
For Individual lectures please click on individual lecture title.
N.C. Wyeth, The Hunter, 1906; oil on canvas, 38 7/8 x 26 5/8 in.; collection of the Brandywine River Museum
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Price: $50.00