We all know The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax and Horton. But what about the Martini Bird?
Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated 44 children's books. But in his personal time, he painted for himself, creating characters that may not have ever made it into literature but still carried that trademark Seussian style.
An exhibit of Dr. Suess' rarely seen artwork is on display through June 15 at the Karis Art & Design Gallery on Hilton Head Island, courtesy of the Art of Dr. Seuss collection.
The collection is reproductions from the original pieces but still gives a glimpse into what curator Bill Dreyer calls the "secret art" of Theodor Seuss Geisel.
Dreyer explains the public and private side of Dr. Seuss.
Question. What's in this exhibit?
Answer. People will come away with two things. They'll see some of the most recognizable imagery from his books. The other thing people will see is the unknown side of Dr. Seuss. During his lifetime, he created paintings and sculpture at night. This is what he enjoyed doing more than anything. He didn't share it with the public. But he did tell his wife, Audrey, that when he was gone to share it with the world.
Q. Where is the original work?
A. All of the original artwork is in the home. They will all go to a museum at some point. But what (Audrey) has been given permission is for a collection of limited edition artwork that have been reproduced from original works. This collection has traveled to galleries and museums everywhere.
Q. What is this artwork like?
A. It's everything you might expect from him. When you look at The Cat in the Hat there's a mischievous side to the character. That's really Dr. Seuss. He was a prankster himself. These paintings reveal that side of him. It's a bit more adult. He uses nudity as a comic device. There's a wink and a nudge with it.
Q. I tend to think of Dr. Seuss more for his use of language. How important was art to what he did?
A. He used to say that words and art were the yin and yang of his work. They really go hand in hand. He delivered children's books through the platform of his artwork. He delivered hundreds of advertisements in his ad career. And tons of editorial cartoons. The artwork is what ties everything together in his life.