February 29, 2020
For over 60 years, Dr. Seuss’s illustrations have brought his whimsical storyteller’s imagination to life for millions of children around the world. Unknown to many of his readers, his artistic talent went far beyond the printed page. After a full day of writing and illustrating for his famous children’s books, Theodor Seuss Geisel continued to paint and draw late into the evening in his study in La Jolla, California. Ted created many fascinating works of art, sometimes called his “midnight paintings”, solely for his own pleasure, and the vast majority of this collection was never published during his lifetime.
Ted’s cat was never far from his artist thoughts. In his early career, many of his early advertisements and cartoons had a “cat bystander” witnessing all the action. His mischievous cat persona went on to become the protagonist in several of his Secret Art paintings. They hinted at his adventures across the world, his reclusive sensibility despite his fame, and his penchant for the childlike fantasy and humor, which infused nearly every facet of his life. Ted drew himself as The Cat Behind the Hat, although there always remained a good-natured debate between family and friends as to whether or not his true alternate identity had more in common with the Grinch than the Cat. At this year’s event, gallery visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about the collection, the artist, and the man behind the work from Ao5’s gallery director, Todd Gresley and Secret Art Collection director, Jeff Schuffman.
Ao5 Gallery has been the proud host of one of the world’s largest collections of The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss since 1998. The collection is comprised of estate authorized limited edition reproductions of Dr. Seuss’s original art, specially chosen by Audrey Geisel and the estate curator for publication and release. Perhaps the wackiest and most wonderful elements of the collection are Dr. Seuss’s three-dimensional “Unorthodox Taxidermy” sculptures with names such as Carbonic Walrus, Two-Horned Drouberhannis, and Goo-Goo-Eyed Tasmanian Wolghast, to name a few. Visitors may explore and acquire works from Dr. Seuss’s best-known children’s books, as well as rare limited edition pieces from The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss.
Despite the unprecedented demand during his lifetime, no limited edition artworks were ever conceived, authorized, or created until this historic project was initiated six years after Geisel’s death by his widow, Audrey Geisel, in 1997. That year, this exclusive project put into motion a series of artworks and exhibitions, which firmly established him as one of the most iconic artistic talents of the 20th century. Audrey Geisel dedicated the remainder of her long life to publicizing and preserving the legacy of Dr. Seuss for generations to come. She passed away in 2018 at the age of 97.
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