Bizarre and funny are not too far apart for him: The world-renowned draftsman, painter, illustrator, children’s book author, and graphic designer Tomi Ungerer attributed his subtle sense of humor to his multicultural Alsatian homeland. He was born in Strasbourg in 1931. In 1955, he moved to New York, where he designed titles for the New Yorker and caricatures for Esquire, Life and New York Times. He moved to Canada in the 70s and later on, he divided his time between a large farm in Ireland and his native city of Strasbourg. The jet-setter died in 2019 at the age of 87. With his incredibly diverse work, he enchanted and entertained millions of children and adults alike. The provocateur, pacifist and great philanthropist had enough ardor for five people: He wrote 140 books, which were translated into 28 languages, and created 40,000 drawings, in addition to various posters, oil paintings, lithographs, and sculptures. He frequently depicted animals in his work, be it realistically or endowed with human characteristics. Ungerer once admitted, “In general, our family was very closely connected to nature, which ultimately shaped my entire childhood.” The almost 30-cm-long “Rat” from 2008, its head made out of a found light bulb, is a typical example of his mixed media objects, which often only required a minor intervention to undermine their original purpose and value.
A RAY OF HOPE WITH MATHEA
Two old spoons as ears: That’s what I like the most about the little animal! It could also be a pig, not a rat. The snout is so flat and round in front. The artist probably found a broken light bulb, then looked for a pipe for the body, shaped the legs and tail, and then put the spoons on the head. The animal looks funny. Alive. The fleck of light on the light bulb even resembles an eye. I think it’s great that the artist made something new and beautiful out of an old light bulb. Otherwise, it would just be lying around in the junkyard. It’s good when you try not to throw away so much. But I think it needs more color. Why is the tiny animal so black? I would have painted it pink.