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Covered with Vines:

The Many Talents of Ludwig Bemelmans
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Ludwig Bemelmans, detail of cover mock-up for "Madeline", ca. 1939, Jean Johnson Kislak Collection, Copyright Ludwig Bemelmans, LLC © Ludwig Bemelmans, LLC
Ludwig Bemelmans, detail of cover mock-up for Madeline, ca. 1939, Jean Johnson Kislak Collection, Copyright Ludwig Bemelmans, LLC © Ludwig Bemelmans, LLC

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.

Exhibition Catalog

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).

The committee felt that this catalog deserved an honorable mention,” remarked Johnston. “’Covered With Vines’ presents a comprehensive overview of the artistic work of Ludwig Bemelmans. Bemelmans is familiar to many for his work on the ‘Madeline’ series, but the full extent of his work is much less well-known. The committee was particularly impressed with how well the catalog gave comprehensive coverage to Bemelmans’ full career as a writer and artist, while still celebrating the ‘Madeline’ children’s books for which Bemelmans is so well-known, and which are so instantly recognizable to many children and adults alike.” 

Purchase the catalog here. 

Installation views of Covered with Vines exhibition

Related Events

Wednesday, October 14, 5:00 PM
Exhibition Remarks and Reception

Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts

HOMECOMING WEEKEND
Saturday, November 7, 2015, 10:45-11:45 AM
Readings of Madeline Books

Goldstein Family Gallery, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
In conjunction with the exhibit Covered with Vines, Kislak Center Director Will Noel and exhibit curator Daniel Traister will read several selections from the beloved children's book collection Madeline. Milk and cookies will be available during this family friendly event.

Saturday, November 7, 2015, 4:00-6:00 PM
Homecoming Gallery Hop

Goldstein Family Gallery, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Join us for a special guided tour of Covered with Vines: The Many Talents of Ludwig Bemelmans during Penn's Homecoming Weekend Gallery Hop. Exhibit curator Daniel Traister will lead the tour.

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