Good Art: The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse by Eric Carfle
I AM AN ARTIST AND I PAINTED A BLUE HORSE ONCE.
Eric Carle's newest, The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse (Philomel, 2011) goes on to show the artist, a tousled-haired boy in the red striped jersey of the artist at work, giving us in turn a red crocodile, a yellow cow, a purple fox, a black polar bear (!), and a multi-colored spotted donkey, all crafted in Carle's signature bright paint-and-paper-collage style set against his trademark bright white page. Present-day adults and current kids who cut their reading teeth on Martin and Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? My First Reader will find nothing unusual in Carle's beautiful blue horse, and his simple affirmation in the closing,
I AM A GOOD ARTIST
will find few objectors these days.
But as we learn in Carle's afterword, the artist of whom he speaks is not himself, but Franz Marc, a post-World War I expressionist whose work was banned as "degenerate art" by the Nazis, who tried to suppress any art but the Aryan heroic realism they favored. As Carle relates, as a student he was discretely shown copies of the banned work by his own art teacher and was influenced tremendously by Marc's inventive use of color, particularly his painting, "Blue Horse," reproduced in the author's note in the informativ e backmatter of this book.
Germany's loss was America's gain when Carle brought his penchant for color and mixed media to our shores in iconic picture books such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar and his illustrations for Bill Martin's Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? and Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? (My First Reader). Carle's latest book honors Franz Marc, imparts a little bit of art and world history, and is thoroughly engaging on its own as picture book art.
Don't miss this book's trailer, a brief but telling visit with national treasure Eric Carle here.