Friday, January 11, 2013

Guess the Artists (Elephant & Piggie)




I’ve been asked quite frequently about the artists that Elephant Gerald is aping on the MoWillems.com homepage.  I even had a letter recently from a teacher planning to have her students visit the various artists represented during a class trip to their local Museum.  Well, they’re a mix of artists that have either had a great influence on my work, artists whose work speaks to me, or artists who are easy to spoof.  

Before I run them down, why not take a quiz and see whom you can name.



How’d you do?



Here’s the rundown, by the numbers indicated in the image below:


1. Alexander Calder; my all-time favorite artist for his whimsy and for inventing an entirely new art medium, the mobile.  I started my career making wire sculptures and the Red Elephant is certainly a homage to Calder.


2. Charles Schulz; my other all-time favorite artist.  Sparky’s work continues to inspire, a lifetime after I first saw it.



3. Henri Matisse; the man whose early work made Picasso a better artist and whose later work still amazes me.



4. Robert Motherwell; perhaps not as well known as FranzKline, but I prefer Motherwell’s bold calligraphic strokes and loopy circles.



5. René Magritte; comedian with a brush. Belgian.


6. Andy Warhol; not my cup of soup, but I love his early Jazz Record illustrations and he’s easy to spoof.



7. Joan MirĂ³; bold, colorful, and so funny.  I’ve always loved his line and been amazed by the colors in his backgrounds.



8. Pablo Picasso; because, well, c’mon. Painting, drawing, ceramics, all spectacular. Check out his illustrations done by flashlight and long exposure photography to get a sense of how much fun he was having.



9. Andy Warhol; again.  But it was a chance to sneak in the Pigeon.



10. Mark Rothko; whose background colors inspired my Suzie Kabloozie cartoons for Sesame Street plus the backgrounds in the Pigeon books.



11. Amedeo Modigliani; who was a cartoonist working in another medium.  Great emotion in the eyes, even if there are no eyes.



12. African Masks; which Picasso brought into western art.  I am fascinated with masks of all kinds.  The African rooms in the Brooklyn Museum always inspire.



13. Vincent Van Gogh; because he’s a Dutchman and his brushstrokes have the improvisation of a great cartoonist.



14. Frank Stella; I just like his work.



15. Piet Mondrian; another Dutchman. I’m a bit of a modernist, and his clean color stuff is just great, especially the work he made after visiting New York.



16. Henry Moore; whose sculpture is beautiful, heavy, and light at the same time.  I was once in Bologna when the whole central square was covered in Moores. Amazing!



There are many other artists, to say nothing of illustrators like Searle, Sempe, and Steinberg, that mean the world to me, but for some reasons these guys made the image.


By the way, you can purchase the poster of this image, which I made to benefit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. 

One lucky winner of the Guess the Artists Contest over at the Carle Museum Blog has won a personalized poster.