Ready for a surprise?
Recently in our bookstore, we happened upon the book “The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss.” We couldn’t wait to open it! WOW! Sure, most of us are familiar with Theodor Geisel’s (Dr. Seuss) numerous children’s books with wonderfully wacky and whimsical artwork framing his unforgettable tales. Whether it be “The Cat in the Hat”, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” “Green Eggs and Ham”, or any other of his memorable books, his artistic style was unique unto itself with its giddy yet strange-looking creatures, bizarre landscapes, and outrageous plants.
However, these adult works of art were personal, never shown to the public, stretching back to the 1920’s, and yet were the precursor to the children’s books first published we know today. Geisel’s personal art is a fascinating and intriguing array of satire expressed through differing styles and mediums. From pencil drawings, watercolor landscapes, surrealism, modernism, sculptures and beyond, his trademark whimsy is present throughout.
Some of the most interesting ones (in our opinion) are his three-dimensional art pieces presented as hunting trophies! His attention to surface detail and especially the types of materials he used is truly fascinating! We also truly love his societal social commentary displayed through caricatures that border on the burlesque, with just the right blend of wit, parody and sarcasm. Delicious! Also, the palette of colors is quite vibrant compared to the muted tones of the children’s books.
These works are certainly not for the little ones! There are adult themes all-throughout, which is what makes this book so interestingly different from the Seuss artwork we all know.
A special touch is the intimate introduction by Maurice Sendak, of “Where the Wild Things Are” fame, who was a friend of ‘Ted’ Geisel.
Pick up this book; it’s worth the look!
Ed and Cynthia Justus are owners of The Bookstore in Hanapepe.