Taking a Look at Eric Carle’s Latest Book

“I am an artist…” is the powerful opening of the latest addition to Eric Carle’s wonderful library of new books, ‘The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse’. This beautiful children’s book tells of a child who pushes the boundaries of his imagination through art, but it is also semi-autobiographical of Carle himself.

Eric Carle's The Artist Who Painted a Blue HorseEric Carle describes the book as “an homage to the Expressionist painter Franz Marc.” Carle lived under Nazi rule in Germany until he was fifteen, but a teacher of his saw the artistic spirit in the young man and introduced him to art that was at the time forbidden. The author explains on his website www.eric-carle.com, “In WW11 Germany, my high school teacher Herr Krauss introduced me to abstract and Expressionist art during a time when works such as these had been banned. The so-called ‘degenerate art,’ paintings of modern and expressionistic art my teacher showed me were unlike anything I had been exposed to before. And really this experience changed my life, though I didn’t know it at the time.”


Franz Marc's Blue Horse

Franz Marc’s Blue Horse

“I am an artist and I paint a blue horse.” This rather innocuous opening statement gains meaning as the narrative continues. The story shows image after image of animals not looking quite like how they should. There is a blue horse, a red crocodile, an orange elephant, a purple fox, a black polar bear and a polka-dotted donkey. Besides these being some of the most beautiful and imaginative creations in Carle’s illustrious career, they are also teaching a lesson about not putting limits on creativity and imagination. Or as Eric Carle puts it, “Never color inside the lines.” The book serves as a gorgeous example of what can happen when creativity and imagination are allowed to run wild.

The personal connection between Carle and the book are what makes it resonate in such a true and powerful way. Growing up in one of the most historically repressed times in Germany’s history, he was still able to discover art and creativity that was frowned upon by his society and government. Carle’s lesson about unchecked creativity becomes so much more important when put into the context of what the artist experienced as a young man.

Here is a lovely video of Eric Carle discussing the making of ‘The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse’:

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