The works in this exhibition were chosen from the enormous variety of children’s books that Eugene Yelchin has illustrated. Some were created for very young audiences – children just beginning to read. Others, particularly "The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge," brilliantly update for a new generation the classic illustrative styles of artists such as Walter Crane (1845-1915) and the darker, chimerical style of Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), whose work have a strong appeal for adults as well as children.
In 2011, Yelchin’s Breaking Stalin’s Nose, which he wrote and illustrated was a Newberry Honor Award winner and The Washington Post's “Best Children’s Book of the Year,” Booklist’s “Top Ten Historical Fiction Books for Youths,” and the American Library Association “Notable Children’s Book" as well as receiving other awards and widespread critical praise.
It is sometimes easier to appreciate all the art that goes into an illustration when it is divorced from the book in which it appears and remarkable how different the printed version can look next to the original work. However, there are certain drawbacks in exhibiting art from books because a really good picture book is a unique physical and emotional phenomenon in which every element of design, art and text contributes to the whole. Anyone who has ever read to a young child knows that it is an almost kinesthetic experience. The illustrations vivify the narrative – and vice-versa – in a seamless, multi-sensory way, and Eugene Yelchin has an uncanny, intuitive sense for how to make that happen.
We are grateful to Dr. Wayne F. Yakes for his continued and unstinting support of the Fulginiti Gallery’s exhibitions program by sharing his collection of Yelchin's work and to Dr. David Thickman for lending three important works to this exhibition. Finally, to Rebecca Benes whose knowledge of and love for children’s book illustrations and illustrators are palpably evident in the historical overview of the field that she contributed to the exhibit publication.
Simon Zalkind, Curator of Exhibitions
Art Gallery at the Fulginiti Pavilion
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