måndag 31 december 2018

söndag 23 december 2018

Gustaf's Night Before Christmas


Today I would like to send the best greetings to all Tenggren fans with a couple of stunning spreads. The Night Before Christmas by C. Clement Moore was published in 1951 by Simon & Schuster as a Big Golden Book. 


Gustaf Tenggren illustrated this classic in his typical 1950s style, using decorative, stylized planes of bright colors in a syncopated jazzy rhythm. A clear inspiration from his former Disney colleague Mary Blair can be recognized.  



In this spread, with Santa delivering toys, Gustaf has included three of the characters he invented for Little Golden Books. The Poky Little Puppy, The Lively Little Rabbit and The Tawny Scrawny Lion are all featured in the image, although the lion was not introduced until the year after, in 1952. I think this somewhat forgotten Tenggren book is one of his brightest and merriest. With that, i wish all A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

lördag 14 juli 2018

Gustaf Tenggren visits Millesgården

The year 2020 will be a special year for admirers of Gustaf Tenggren and his art. Apart from being a numerically and visually interesting set of numbers, it marks a couple of anniversaries connected to Gustaf Tenggren's life. In 1920, Gustaf Tenggren arrived in USA from Sweden. In 1970 he died in Maine after a long career. That means that the year 2020 not only marks the centennial anniversary of his arrival in USA but also the 50-year commemoration of his passing.
Carl Milles, 1875 – 1955 and Gustaf Tenggren, 1896 – 1970
So what can be more appropriate than to throw a comprehensive exhibition of his work? As it happens, the museum of Swedish sculptor Carl Milles, Millesgården, has decided to do just that. In spring of 2020, a Gustaf Tenggren exhibition will be held at Millesgårdens Konsthall. The scope is to display a total overview of Tenggren's production and I have been asked to curate the show, the task of which I have most gratefully, although in utter humbleness, accepted.

The venue of Millesgården seems quite logical – the similarities of the two artists are many. Carl Milles was born in Sweden and had built a career in Sweden as a prominent sculptor with several commissions before he visited USA in the beginning of the 1930ies. In 1931 he was hired as a professor in sculpture by the Cranbrook Academy. He stayed and worked in USA for 20 years, before he returned to his home at Lidingö, the current premises of Millesgården Museum. 

Gustaf Tenggren had also started his career as an illustrator of magazines and fairy tale books when he left Sweden for USA. Just as his fellow countryman he built a solid reputation as an artist and illustrator on American turf, but unlike Milles, he never returned to his paternal homeland. 
The homecoming of Tenggren's art to the country where he was forgotten for a vast period will mean a great opportunity to get acquainted to Gustaf Tenggren's art as a whole. The venue for this event could not be better; Milles and Tenggren is a combo hard to beat. 

fredag 28 juli 2017

A night to remember

As mentioned already, on June 22nd Gustaf Tenggren was inducted as a member of Society of Illustrator's Hall of Fame at a Ceremony held in the premises of the club on128 East 63rd Street in New York. 
Society of Illustrator's prize reception dinner on June 22nd, 2017.
The walls are covered with art from Stephen Korshak's collection of illustration art,
including two works by Gustaf Tenggren.
(All photos in this blog post except for the Tenggren paintings by Jason Goodfriend,
courtesy of the Society of Illustrators.)
For once, the event reception was held in the exhibition area, which turned out to provide a spectacular environment for the venue, hosting parts of Stephen Korshak's amazing collection of illustration art as it was. Very appropriately, two works by Gustaf Tenggren were included in the show, both of which from his early artist years. 

Gustaf Tenggren: Trolls walking downhill, 1915. 
Gustaf Tenggren: Witch. From Bland Tomtar och Troll, 1922.
Receiving the award on behalf of Gustaf Tenggren was Barbara Wells Fitzgerald, daughter of Gustaf's younger brother, Gunnar. Her son Christopher and Nhu Tran accompanied her at the reception dinner. 
Gustaf Tenggren's niece Barbra Wells Fitzgerald,
her son Cristopher Wells and Nhu Tran on the Hall of Fame red carpet. 
Barbra Wells Fitzgerald sharing her memories of
her uncle Gustaf Tenggren to the reception audience.
Barbra Wells Fitzgerald and Cristopher Wells holding the award.
Gustaf Tenggren sure was in good company: the other illustrators awarded in 2017 were:
  • Mort Drucker
  • Bart Forbes
  • Burne Hogarth
  • Anita Kunz
  • George Petty
  • Ralph Steadman
From the impressive list of awardees, three were present at the reception. Ralph Steadman, who had provided the event logo, could unfortunately not make it but was participating through a video.

Ralph Steadman, participating through a video link, holding the symbols of the event. 
Anita Kunz
Bart Forbes
Anita Kunz and Bart Forbes both held acceptance speeches to the audience from the stand, while the reception's grand old man, Mort Drucker, preferred to thank for the award more briefly. After all, this gentleman, born in 1929, is in his right to go easy after a 60-year career as a cartoonist.
Legendary MAD illustrator and Hall of Fame awardee Mort Drucker
enjoying the company at the Society of Illustrator's prize ceremony.
All in all, this induction ceremony consolidated Gustaf Tenggren's repute as one of the important early New York illustrators during the years when the Society of Illustrator were still in its bud. I'm so happy that his niece Barbara was able to attend the venue, accepting the prize on her uncle Gustaf's behalf. It would have made him proud, entitling himself an artist as he always was throughout his career. 

lördag 13 maj 2017

And the awardees are...

I am truly proud to announce that Gustaf Tenggren has been chosen to be inducted as a member of The Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame in New York. Finally he is acknowledged as one of the great illustration artists of USA.
Award of Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame
The induction ceremony will take place on June 22nd, 2017, at the premises of the Society of Illustrators in New York City. He is in good company – the other laureates at the event are:

Mort Drucker
Bart Forbes
Burne Hogarth
Anita Kunz
George Petty
Ralph Steadman

So go for a ticket while you can! https://www.societyillustrators.org/shop/buy-tickets/1121

torsdag 6 april 2017

Beyond Golden Books

In a series of lectures, the archivists and curators of The Archives of University of Minneapolis will talk about exciting holdings from the collections and their originators .
First in line on Friday April 7, is "Beyond Golden Books: The Art of Gustaf Tenggren", presented by Caitlin Marineau, the Children’s Literature Research Collections.
Illustration for Catherine and Frank Wells: "The Last Fairy", Good Housekeeping 1925 

Gustaf Tenggren is known and beloved for his illustrations for books such as The Poky Little Puppy, as well as his work on many classic Disney films, but if we dive deeper into his work, we can unearth a treasure chest of art, from unpublished works to out-of-print classics.

torsdag 22 december 2016

Merry 120th Christmas, Gustaf!

I would like to wish all readers of this blog a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! What better illustration is there than this great painting from Opal Wheeler's compilation of Christmas Carols from 1943: "Sing for Christmas".
Illustration for "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen" from
"Sing for Christmas" by Opal Wheeler.
E.P. Dutton & Company, New York 1943.
The book may have been planned as a sequel to the much appreciated "Favorite Hymns" by Inez Bertail from 1941. A Swede of origin, Gustaf Tenggren still has skillfully captured the very special spirit of the Anglo-Saxon type of Christmas. Already in 1936, 16 years after his arrival in USA, Tenggren had became a naturalized citizen, and his illustrations had continuously grown more and more American.
Cover for "Sing for Christmas"
His interpretation was indeed as convincing as to result in yet another song book by Opal Wheeler the year after: "Sing for America" was a collection of patriotic songs that proved that Tenggren had thoroughly managed to grasp the sentiment of American cultural heritage, and to a degree that made him seem even more patriotic than the Americans themselves. 
Cover for "Sing for America" by Opal Wheeler.
E.P. Dutton & Company, New York 1944.