Eric Carle: Animals and Friends | Montclair Art Museum
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Eric Carle: Animals and Friends

Start Date: 
Sep 13, 2015
End Date: 
Jan 03, 2016

Featuring work by the acclaimed children’s book author and illustrator Eric Carle (b. 1929), Eric Carle: Animals and Friends highlights the artist’s meticulous preparatory process and key childhood themes of animals and friendship. It includes more than 60 original collages, studies, and book dummies/mock ups. Especially noteworthy are Carle’s colorful, hand-painted tissue paper collages, which form the basis of his illustrations. In addition to finished collages, there will be preliminary works including pencil studies that underscore Carle’s meticulous care for his subject. The works in this exhibition address the subjects of two recent publications by Carle: his love of color and use of imagination expressed in The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse (2011) and the celebration of childhood from Friends (2013).


Carle’s love of nature is legendary. To recognize this passion, the exhibition includes selected work from The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, as well as other publications exploring his interest in animals. The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse was inspired by the bright, unconventional animal paintings of the German artist Franz Marc (1880-1916). Marc’s Blue Horse I (1911) and other works were admired by the young Carle, who spent his boyhood in Germany when the Nazi regime prohibited the creation or display of modern art. His art teacher secretly showed the teenager examples of the forbidden art. Carle recently observed, “My green lion, polka-dotted donkey and other animals painted in the ‘wrong’ colors were really born that day seventy years ago.”


Eric Carle's newest picture book, Friends, published in November 2013, is a celebration of friendship and childhood expressed in colorful tissue paper collage illustrations. It recounts the poetic story of an imaginary journey of the child at play. Inspired by Carle's memories of early friendships, as well as friendships in his adult life, the book is testament to the importance of close relationships and the lasting bonds that remain through every stage in life.


Since his best-known work, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, was published in 1969, Carle has illustrated more than 70 books, most of which he also wrote. The characteristic themes of friendship and nature will be further explored in additional works from Carle’s vast repertoire, including Do You Want to Be My Friend? (1971), The Rooster Who Set Out to See the World (1972), Do Bears Have Mothers Too? (1973), Animals Animals (1989), and Where Are You Going? To See My Friend (2001).



Download a Family Guide



Interactive Spaces
The exhibition features two interactive, family-friendly spaces included with Museum admission.


Family Learning Lab

3rd Floor Elevator Lobby

Drop by the Lab for an interactive exploration of Eric Carle’s artistic process. Draw, collage, and build your own Eric Carle-inspired creation! 


Reading Nook

Weston Gallery
Cozy up and further explore the art of Eric Carle with one of his iconic books.

Generously supported by Rosemary and Al Iversen.



Public Programs

Public and family programs accompanying the exhibition will provide fun, education, and inspiration for all ages. Visit for updates and to purchase tickets. Highlights include:


MAM Lawn Party

September 12, 12– 5 p.m.

Free with suggested donation


Celebrate the exhibition Eric Carle: Animals and Friends with a daylong celebration featuring a special Parents Who Rock 10th Anniversary Benefit Concert for MAM. Join us from noon to 5 p.m. outside on the lawn for performances by over 20 local bands and performers including Warren Zanes, family-friendly activities, and food vendors serving a variety of delicious fare. MAM members are invited to an exhibition preview before the community event. All proceeds support MAM’s art education programs designed for special needs audiences.



29th Annual Julia Norton Babson Memorial Lecture: The Illustrator’s Eye, Real and Imagined

Jerry Pinkney

Thursday, October 8, 7 p.m.

$12 members/$15 nonmembers


Jerry Pinkney, award-winning American illustrator, will discuss the decisions leading up to developing a book project, the ways in which he finds his own vision, and how he develops a fuller understanding of his subjects.



Fall Educators Evening

Thursday, October 15



Join us for a special evening for pre–K–12 teachers as we explore the work of celebrated children's book illustrator Eric Carle both in the galleries and through hands-on activities in Leir Hall. Enjoy light refreshments and learn how MAM can be a valuable resource for you and your students. 


Participants earn 2 hours of professional development credit for the evening. 




Eric Carle Family Day

November 15, 1–4 p.m.

Free member family; $10 nonmember family (up to 6 people)


Participate in a day of exploration with many dynamic Museum-wide art activities. Enjoy an Eric Carle Reading Marathon, a toy workshop featuring toy collector/author Dorothée Charles, and art projects inspired by the current exhibition Eric Carle: Animals and Friends.


Visit Family Programs for a full listing of upcoming events!


Eric Carle: Animals and Friends was organized in conjunction with The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Generous support at the Montclair Art Museum provided by Bob and Bobbie Constable, Tracy Higgins and James Leitner, Rosemary and Al Iversen, and Margo and Frank Walter.

Additional support is provided by the exhibition Leadership Committee: Leslie Larson and Donald Katz, the Linda Sue Pfarrer Nortillo Charitable Foundation, Ivonne and Jon Ruggles, and the supporters of the Eric Carle Fund-a-Need. Special thanks to the Scholastic Reading Club and Penguin Young Readers. 


All Museum programs are made possible, in part, by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, Carol and Terry Wall/The Vance Wall Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and Museum members.

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