Covered with Vines:
On exhibit August 21 - December 21, 2015
In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. . . .
The smallest one was Madeline.
Although she was the smallest of the little girls who lived under the care of Miss Clavel in that Parisian house, Madeline has grown up, in the years since her birth in 1939, to overshadow everything else her creator, Ludwig Bemelmans, accomplished during his long, varied, and highly productive career. Based on both the collection formed by Jean Kislak, a Madeline aficionado, and Penn's own Bemelmans collections, this exhibition displays printed books, manuscripts, and art to recover a Bemelmans now largely forgotten, while also celebrating Madeline.
In three parts devoted to Bemelmans as writer, Bemelmans as artist, and Bemelmans as creator of Madeline, we consider Ludwig Bemelmans's multiple careers. Restaurateur and hotelier, soldier, memoirist, short story writer, novelist, travel writer, script writer, cartoonist, illustrator, commercial artist, painter—all of Bemelmans's other personal and artistic endeavors, including even his other children's books, have disappeared beneath the towering success of Madeline. All deserve a second look. Neither Madeline as character nor Madeline as book came out of nothing. Penn's exhibition hopes to remove some of the vines that prevent a clearer view of the multi-talented artist who was her source.
The fully-illustrated, full color, 96 page catalog with an expanded introduction by the curator received an honorable mention for the 2017 RBMS Leab Exhibition Award (Division Two).