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Tomi Ungerer

When I was assistant-to-the-editor, I was captivated by a picture on the wall outside Mr. Monjo’s office. It showed a costume party with one character standing out from the rest as not fitting in. This little round white figure provoked my curiosity and sympathy. Eventually I learned he was Moon Man, from Tomi Ungerer’s book of the same name. Remembrance of that image kindled the desire to go see the artist’s work at the Drawing Center

There is a blunt power to his line, and the show focuses on his political images (with a closed door, warning against the pornographic fare).

Most striking to me was the journal from his years as a student in Alsace under Nazi occupation, which began when he was about nine years old. Descriptive copy said that his boyhood talent for drawing was encouraged because, chillingly, “the Führer needs artists.”

Since first learning of Tomi Ungerer, I’d heard that World War II influenced his work.

Seeing the journal made it impossible not to think more deeply about how war had shaped this man’s life.

Images copyright Tomi Ungerer

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