I ran across this article on Brain Pickings about a book published in 1995 called “The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss.” I was really amazed to see that his style and aesthetic were so much a part of him that he could make this scene look like it was edited out of One Fish Two Fish, or How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I mean just look at this:
Dr. Seuss, or Ted Geisel, always was the master of making a children’s book seem even more pertinent when read by an adult, so I guess it shouldn’t come as such a surprise that his illustrations have such a story and message. My favorite from the post was this one.
It’s so easy to look at it and believe it is another one of his whimsical nonsensical characters, yet if you really look (or read the caption on Brain Pickings) you see it isn’t. It makes me want to go back through all of my favorite Seuss stories and take a good look at what each character really means. What does the Cat’s giant striped hat mean? Why does the Lorax have a bushy orange mustache but no neck? I bet if we looked, and thought about it we’d see more.
I think this should be the case with any art. You should see something more, or feel something more every time you look at it. The message should be clear, but also complex. That way when you look at it again 10 minutes from now, or 3 years from now, you’ll still have a connection and something new to reflect on. Almost as if art should allow you to gain the artists perspective, but to also overlay your experiences and your perspective on top to create something new every time you look at the piece. You should come back after those 3 years with new experiences and perspective to give you a new appreciation for what the artist is saying. That’s how art becomes timeless.
What I love so much about this “secret art” is just what I said before – it is so him. It is obvious that this came straight out of wherever creativity comes from without any kind of filter.
Here’s Maurice Sendak’s take:
There was certainly nothing cookie-cutter, bland, or trendy about Ted Geisel. These works abound in nuttiness, ‘political incorrectness,’and lots and lots of cats. In short, you have entered Seussville, where questions and doubts are left at the door with the coo-coo something-or-other. Enjoy yourself.
Until Next Time,