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MAM Exhibition Features Iconic Children's Book Author and Illustrator Eric Carle


MONTCLAIR, NJ - Beginning September 13, 2015, the Montclair Art Museum will host an exhibition of over 60 original works 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. The exhibition will be on view through January 3, 2016.

The featured work includes 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. All the work in this exhibition addresses the subjects of two recent publications by Carle: his love of color and use of the imagination expressed in The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse (2011) and his celebration of friendship and childhood in 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 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.”

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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 are 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).

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



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.


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.


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.



Group and School Tours

Group and school tours may be booked by calling 973-259-5136 or emailing

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