Theodor Seuss Geisel (American, 1904 – 1991), best known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, is perhaps the most famous children’s book author in the world. His books, which he wrote and illustrated, have been translated into nearly every living language (and even a few dead ones), and his personal style is immediately recognizable. What most people do not know about Geisel, however, is that he was also a fine artist. He was a virtuoso, working both in paint and sculpture.
Born in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts, Geisel attended Dartmouth and honed his skills as a cartoonist there. In 1926, Geisel visited Paris, and found inspiration in the works of famed Surrealist artists like Joan Miro (Spanish, 1893 – 1983) and Salvador Dali (Spanish, 1904 – 1989). He moved to New York City in 1927, and worked as a cartoonist and advertising designer before becoming primarily known for children’s books with The Cat in the Hat in 1957. All the while, Geisel continued to produce art, both in the form of false taxidermy sculptures of animals of his own imagination, and paintings populated by creatures and figures similar to those found in his books. While much of his fine art was not available in his lifetime, his popularity as a children’s book author and illustrator have made his illustrations sought after. A signed drawing of the Cat in the Hat, executed in black and red marker, was sold by Nest Egg Auctions in 2020 and brought $1,800.
Since Geisel’s passing in 1991, his fine art has become more accessible to the public. His paintings are being reproduced by his estate in limited editions, which draw incredible interest and command high prices. One of these editions was a serigraph entitled Pink Tufted Small Beast in a Night Landscape, after an oil original from 1960. The print looks characteristic of Dr. Seuss, with an imaginary animal, the titular Pink Tufted Small Beast, which sits on a portion of a Surrealist building. The entire composition is visually interesting, and keeps the viewer intrigued by what they see. In addition, Geisel’s style is instantly recognizable in the print, and his pictures stir up nostalgia in most viewers for the halcyon days of our youth. We are reminded of a time when we believed anything was possible, and a Pink Tufted Small Beast sitting on a strange building was no less reasonable to us than a squirrel sitting on the patio rail. This nostalgia is certainly felt by many, as this serigraph sold for an impressive $2,900.
Theodor Seuss Geisel is among the most commercially successful artists of the 20th century, along with figures as disparate as Norman Rockwell (1894 – 1978) and Salvador Dali, and somehow Geisel seems to strike a balance between these two artists. In Geisel, the broad appeal and nostalgia of Rockwell meshes with the outrageous and sensational of Dali. Yet, Geisel is an artist in a league of his own, and achieved a level of recognition beyond almost any other artist. Show someone (anyone) a drawing by Dr. Seuss, and they can tell you exactly who made it.
Nest Egg Auctions is always happy to see and sell the artworks of Dr. Seuss. If you have a print, painting, drawing, sketch, or sculpture by Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss), we would love to see it! Please send us a photo, and we would be delighted to discuss it further with you.