We are proud to announce our newest Secret Art release, “That Winter Spring Came Late.” For a full overview of this artwork, please visit: http://www.drseussart.com/winterspring. If you are interested in acquiring an artwork from The Art of Dr. Seuss Collection, please visit: http://www.drseussart.com/how-to-acquire/
In 1986, Dr. Seuss dedicated “You’re Only Old Once!” to his Dartmouth buddies “With Affection for & Afflictions with the Members of the Class of 1925.” Norman Maclean of “A River Runs Through It” fame mentored Ted on Dartmouth’s “Jack-O-Lantern” staff; Mike McClintock published Ted’s first book at Vanguard Press; Beef Vernon brokered Ted’s career-starting job at “Judge” magazine; Ted dedicated “Yertle the Turtle” to Don Bartlett and named “Horton” after Horton Conrad. (“You’re Only Old Once!” image: “Dietician Von Eiffel controls the Wuff-Whiffer, our Diet-Devising Computerized Sniffer, on which you just simply lie down in repose and sniff at good food as it goes past your nose.”)
In August 1963, Dr. Seuss donated “Raising Money for the Arts” to the La Jolla Art Center charity auction. It delighted the audience that night and won the top auction bid, more than was paid for a Cézanne drawing. It was one of the few times that Dr. Seuss offered one of his “Secret Art” paintings for sale.
The Murphy Calendar Company wasn’t the first to approach Dr. Seuss, but they were the only people successful in getting him to produce two series of twelve paintings, which were used in promotional calendar blotters during the 1930s. These fully developed paintings mirror the style, look, and feel of his art deco period, featuring works with heavy black backgrounds designed to visually force the central image forward. (Caption: “It’s our first . . . don’t you think it looks like George?”)
Dr. Seuss graduated from Dartmouth on June 23, 1925, with a grade point average of 2.454 and a respectable ranking: 133rd in a class of 387. Lifelong friend and Dartmouth classmate, Chicago attorney and philanthropist Kenneth Montgomery said of Ted: “He was not gregarious in the sense of hail-fellow-well-met; there was no sense of self-importance about him. When he walked into a room, it was like a magician’s act. Birds flew out of his hands, and endless bright scarves and fireworks. Everything became brighter, happier, funnier. And he didn’t try. Everything Ted did seemed to be a surprise, even to him.” (Image from “The Cat’s Quizzer” 1976, “Ellie’s Elegant Elephant.”)
The top building with four belching smokestacks was the Springfield Gasworks in Dr. Seuss’s hometown. In 1971 he re-imagined it as Thneeds in “The Lorax,” his tale about factories invading—and destroying—the natural environment. He told the New Orleans “Times-Picayune" in 1988: “I prefer ‘The Lorax’ to almost anything I ever did—it’s the one book written with propaganda in mind. I’m as proud of that as of anything I’ve ever done.”
This is “Animation over Frozen Frame,” an early Seuss watercolor and tempura painting. Here the brain sends a message through the heart to the engineer at the “seat” of the controls. The December 17, 1960 “New Yorker” profile of Dr. Seuss began with these words: “The face of Theodor Seuss Geisel [is] an arresting one, with soft eyes and a long beaky nose.” That’s a little bit like the face on this guy.
At the end of 1978, Architectural Digest did a 6-page spread on Dr. Seuss and his home. The reporter wrote, “In an age of computers and humorless technology, it is a comfort to know that Dr. Seuss, provided with little more than brush and pencil, has traveled well beyond the moon. Wherever the flag of innocence and wonder and magic is flying, he has helped to raise it.” (Image from “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” “You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.”)
Here is Dr. Seuss’s 1964 painting “Self-Portrait as a Young Man Shaving.” Ted, who lived in a New York City apartment in the 1930s, portrays himself using an electric shaver, which was first patented in 1928 and successfully marketed in 1931 when Ted was 27. His stance at the sink mirrors his stance at the easel.
(Excerpt from 1980 interview) Even Dr. Seuss’s mother had a whimsical streak. After he was graduated from Dartmouth in 1925, he attended Lincoln College, Oxford, England, for a year before dropping out. He thought his mother would be severely disappointed and he dreaded telling her what he thought would be bad news. “Instead,” he is saying now, hammering home the final crescendo of whimsicality, “she congratulated me and said she was so happy that I would never be a stuffed shirt.” And now, sitting in this Manhattan office, he has a short and sweet view of his own enormous success. “To do work that you love regardless of the income is success.” (New York City Marian Christy interview with Dr. Seuss, syndicated July 1980) Ted and his sister, Marnie, with their mother at Beach Park near Clinton, Connecticut.
This pen and ink Dr. Seuss drawing always appeared to me to be a granny knitting herself a tropical island (note the little palm tree). Recently, I realized she is actually knitting a Thneed from “The Lorax” book. How I could have missed that I’ll never know. The drawing of her is part of the Seuss Estate collection and was photographed at the home. (The Once-ler said: “He thought that the Thneed I had knitted was great. He happily bought it for three ninety-eight. I laughed at the Lorax, ‘You poor stupid guy! You never can tell what some people will buy.’”)
Dr. Seuss, a lifelong lover of practical jokes, became bored at a 1986 charity gala at the new Neiman-Marcus in San Diego. So, while the other guests stampeded through the store on a scavenger hunt for merchandise prices, Ted was found in the women’s shoe department, cheerily lowering the prices on every box of Ferragamos and Bruno Maglis in sight. (That twinkle in his eyes is really mischief.)
Dr. Seuss may well be the only artist who successfully combined surrealism with insightful life messages aimed at children and adults alike. His children’s books were filled with outlandish characters and settings, all working toward the common goal of educating, entertaining, and enlightening children about the important values and lessons in life. Dr. Seuss’s 1968 painting, “Fooling Nobody,” is no exception. It has all the characteristics of an accomplished surrealist painting, yet also illustrates the same unique ability to convey an important message. Ted seems to suggest that no matter how big, inflated or different the image we may try to portray is, in the end being ourselves is most important―for despite heroic efforts, we are really “fooling nobody.”
The strange looking vehicle driven by Sylvester McMonkey McBean in “The Sneetches” looks very much like a huge tractor built in Springfield, Massachusetts, Dr. Seuss’s hometown, by the Knox Automobile Company between 1899 and 1927. The Knox line included three-wheel runabouts, tractors, buses, and enclosed cars. Beginning in 1906, Knox built fire engines that made Springfield the first motorized fire department in the country.