Tomi Ungerer is best known as the award winning author and illustrator of such beloved 1960s children’s classics as The Three Robbers (1961) and Moon Man (1966). But the virtuoso draftsman—who was born in Alsace, France, in 1931, and who currently resides in a remote part of Ireland near Cork—is much more than this. Even as Ungerer was busy producing children’s books for the publisher Harper & Row, he was making a name for himself with witty advertising campaigns for the New York Times and the Village Voice, biting satirical illustrations about the business world, and brutal pictorial responses to racism, fascism, and the Vietnam War. Ungerer also made graphic erotic drawings throughout his career. That Ungerer is not as well known in America today as he is in Europe is largely due to his self-imposed exile c.1970, when he and his wife abruptly abandoned New York and relocated to a farm in Nova Scotia, where Ungerer produced some of his most exquisite drawings to date.
The Drawing Center exhibition is the first career retrospective in the United States dedicated to this extraordinary artist. Beginning with his childhood drawings depicting the Nazi invasion of Strasbourg, through his work in New York and Canada, and concluding with Ungerer’s most recent political and satirical campaigns as well as his illustrations for the 2013 children’s book Fog Island, Tomi Ungerer: All in One re-introduces this wildly creative individual to New York City and the world. The exhibition occupies the entire facility, with a spotlight “exhibition” of Ungerer’s erotic drawings in the Drawing Room and animations in the lower-level Lab gallery.