Thursday , August 5 2021

He draws a drastic, erotic, lively, surreal "

Children's books were just a minor matter, three years ago, told Tomi Ungerer in a "press" conversation – right in Zurich she just opened a large exhibition of Ungerer, which seemed somewhat similar to wills.

Not because the 84-year-old would be so fragile, on the contrary, he still had an impressive look with his stick, including a bell, his wide hat and self-confidence, which would be enough for five artists. However, it had some degree because it showed tens of thousands of parts of Ungerer in all its exceptional diversity, with plenty of exhibits.

In the main, there were drawings from "Mysterious sketch", "Kamasutra for frogs", "Fornicon" or "Erotoscope"; Collages, including sculptures; Texts full of language games. And everything drastic, erotic, lively, surrealistic, playful, full of black humor. In short, an art that would not necessarily be associated with the author of a children's book. We must not forget: the drawings from the "Great songbook" that breathed Alsace, the work of Tomi Ungerer's heart.

Yes, a man could actually afford to name his children's book as a by-product, although he is among the best in international literary literature for children in the 1970s and 1980s. But even if Tomi Ungerer was not so sure about this, he was certainly keen on these children's books. "The Three Robbers", "The Moonman", "Papa Schnapp", "Zeraldin the Giant", "Adelaide, Flying Kangaroo", Crickor, Good Snake "," Rufus, Color Bat "," No Kiss for Mother "etc. these titles belonged to the gem of the children's brochures of the Diogenes children's brochure. In addition to authors such as Michael Ende, Janosch and Mira Lobe, Ungerer became one of the most important authors of children's books in German after 1968. And like Janosch, rude as author of a children's book. If you look more closely, it sums taboo illustrator in it.

Wild hiking trails. So his books for children were really a minor thing? In fact – and this was said by Ungerer in the interview – it was still less important. "I do not like to define myself, I do what I like. I am an eternal amateur without a high school diploma." After failing to complete a high school diploma (and evaluated as "perverse and subversive" in his latest testimony), the son He moved the Strasbourg watchmaker across Europe, then tried as a commercial artist, cartoonist and author in the US – where he had to cope with censorship and publishing problems due to drastic erotic drawings and evil caricatures.

Farm in Ireland. In 1971, Tomi Ungerer moved to New Scotland to Canada for a few years, then bought a farm in the south-west of Ireland, where he lived there alternately since 1976 – where he died – and in his home town of Strasbourg, who even gave his museum . He never really left Alsace. Regardless of whether in his drawings for adults or for children – his image inspired Alsatian history, Alsatian stories, Alsatian traditions. And Ungerer also remained linguistically Alsatian.

In his lyrics, he played with his tongue, jumped between German, French and English. The Alzashina, which the French suffered in the post-war era, was the most loved by Ungerer, not least because it survived so many old elements of the German language. He enjoyed the sharp, drastic, plastic that he sought in his art. "If Martin Luther came from here, Alsatan would become High German," he said.

"Thoughts are free." Ungerer also had a very generous nature. Although he did not want to be perceived primarily as the author of a children's book – but the joy he made with his books for children, he is happy with what he said to the "press": "At least I know that I am very happy with my books for the kids. brought. I like to work! This is the work of an artist, I am a folk artist.

At the end of his speeches, he sang a folk song that he loved very much – probably a program for his art: "Thoughts are free."?

("Die Presse", printed edition, February 10, 2019)

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