Tomi Ungerer by Claude Truong-Ngoc (2014).
28 November 1931
|Occupation||Artist, illustrator, writer|
|Alma mater||Municipal School for Decorative Arts (Strasbourg)|
|Genre||Children's picture books, erotic literature|
|Notable awards||Legion d'Honneur France
Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration
|Relatives||Theodore Ungerer (father)
Alice Ungerer (mother)
Jean-Thomas "Tomi" Ungerer (born 28 November 1931) is a French illustrator and a writer in three languages. He has published over 140 books ranging from much loved children's books to controversial adult work and from the fantastic to the autobiographical. He is known for sharp social satire and witty aphorisms.
Ungerer was born in Strasbourg, France, the youngest of four children to Alice (Essler) and Theo Ungerer. The family moved to Logelbach, near Colmar, after the death of Tomi's father, Theodore — an artist, engineer, and astronomical clock manufacturer — in 1936. Ungerer also lived through the German occupation of Alsace when the family home was requisitioned by the Wehrmacht.
As a young man, Ungerer was inspired by the illustrations appearing in The New Yorker magazine, particularly the work of Saul Steinberg. In 1957, the year after he moved to the U.S., Harper & Row published his first children's book, The Mellops Go Flying, and his second, The Mellops Go Diving for Treasure; by the early 1960s he had created at least ten children's picture books with Harper, plus a few others, and had illustrated some books by other writers. He also did illustration work for such publications as The New York Times, Esquire, Life, Harper's Bazaar, The Village Voice, and for television during the 1960s, and began to create posters denouncing the Vietnam War.
After Allumette; A Fable, with Due Respect to Hans Christian Andersen, the Grimm Brothers, and the Honorable Ambrose Bierce in 1974, he ceased writing children's books, focusing instead on adult-level books, many of which focused on sexuality. He eventually returned to children's literature with Flix 1998. Ungerer donated many of the manuscripts and artwork for his early children’s books to the Children’s Literature Research Collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia.
One consistent theme in Ungerer's illustrations has been his support for European construction, beginning with Franco-German reconciliation in his home region of Alsace, and in particular European values of tolerance and diversity. In 2003, he was named Ambassador for Childhood and Education by the 47-nation Council of Europe.
In 2007, his home town dedicated a museum to him, the Musée Tomi Ungerer/Centre international de l’illustration.
Ungerer currently divides his time between Ireland (where he and his wife moved in 1976), and Strasbourg. In addition to his work as a graphic artist and 'drawer', he is also a designer, toy collector and "archivist of human absurdity."
Overview of work
Tomi Ungerer describes himself first and foremost as a story teller and satirist. Prevalent themes in his work include political satire such as drawings and posters against the Vietnam War and against animal cruelty, eroticism, and imaginative subjects for children's books.
The biennial Hans Christian Andersen Award conferred by the International Board on Books for Young People is the highest recognition available to a writer or illustrator of children's books. Ungerer received the illustration award in 1998.
- The Mellops Go Flying (1957)
- Mellops Go Diving for Treasure (1957)
- Crictor (1958)
- The Mellops Strike Oil (1958)
- Adelaide (1959)
- Christmas Eve at the Mellops (1960)
- Emile (1960)
- Rufus (1961)
- The Three Robbers (1961)
- Snail, Where Are You? (1962)
- Mellops Go Spelunking (1963)
- Flat Stanley (1964) — art by Tomi Ungerer, written by Jeff Brown
- One, Two, Where's My Shoe? (1964)
- Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls (1964) — art by Tomi Ungerer, poems collected by William Cole
- Oh, What Nonsense! (1966) — art by Tomi Ungerer, edited by William Cole
- Orlando, the Brave Vulture (1966)
- Warwick's Three Bottles (1966) – with André Hodeir
- Cleopatra Goes Sledding (1967) – with André Hodeir
- What's Good for a 4-Year-Old? (1967) — art by Tomi Ungerer, text by William Cole
- Moon Man (Der Mondmann) (Diogenes Verlag, 1966)
- Zeralda's Ogre (1967)
- Ask Me a Question (1968)
- The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1969) — text by Barbara Hazen
- Oh, How Silly! (1970) — art by Tomi Ungerer, edited by William Cole
- The Hat (1970)
- I Am Papa Snap and These Are My Favorite No Such Stories (1971)
- The Beast of Monsieur Racine (1971)
- The Hut (1972)
- Oh, That's Ridiculous! (1972) — art by Tomi Ungerer, edited by William Cole
- No Kiss for Mother (1973)
- Allumette; A Fable, with Due Respect to Hans Christian Andersen, the Grimm Brothers, and the Honorable Ambrose Bierce (1974)
- Tomi Ungerer's Heidi: The Classic Novel (1997) — art by Tomi Ungerer, text by Johanna Spyri
- Flix (1998)
- Tortoni Tremelo the Cursed Musician (1998)
- Otto: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear (1999)
- Zloty (2009)
- Fog Island (2013)
List of exhibitions
- Design of Dr. Strangelove film poster (1964)
- Design of the logo for the ill-fated Broadway musical Kelly (1965)
- Art work and poster for the film Monterey Pop (1968)
- Design of the Janus Aqueduct in Strasbourg (1988)
- "If people were brave enough to live out their erotic fantasies, pornography would disappear altogether. I've always believed that eroticism, even more than sensuality, is a form of liberation." — Erotoscope
- "Official Website". Tomi Ungerer. Retrieved 2013-08-17.
- "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 2013-08-03.
- "Tomi Ungerer" (pp. 100–01, by Sus Rostrup).
The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
- Ungerer, Tomi. Tomi: A Childhood under the Nazis. Roberts Rinehart Publishing Group, Colorado. 1998. ISBN 1-57098163-9
- Who's who in U.S. Writers, Editors & Poets - Curt Johnson - Google Books. Retrieved 2013-08-17 – via Google Books.
- Ungerer profile. Lambiek's Comiclopedia.
- Kennedy, Randy. "Tomi Ungerer Returns". The New York Times. 27 July 2008.
- Author bio, Moon Man (Phaidon Press Limited, 2009).
- "Happy Birthday, Tomi Ungerer!, Free Library Blog (November 26, 2010).
- "Tomi Ungerer – Biography". Official website. Retrieved 2010-08-15.
- "Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story". Palm Springs International Film Society. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
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