Tomi Ungerer's Zoo[Tomi Ungerer Museum]
"Observational" drawings, advertising posters, satirical cartoons, drawings for children, sculpture-assemblages: "Tomi Ungerer's Zoo" brings together a hundred or so of the artist's productions in a whole variety of published works exploring the theme of the bestiary.
Tomi Ungerer took an interest in the animal world from his early years, when he began observing and drawing the birds of the Vosges forests. He later returned to the subject in the 1970s with drawings from life: sketches of the domestic and wild animals of Nova Scotia, where he was living at the time. But it is equally present in the other fields of his work. Certain motifs stand out, like that of the humanized animal, a recurrent figure in satire used by Ungerer in a series issued by the German publisher Domberger. A precursor of such work was the 19th century French illustrator Grandville, one of the first to make of the figure a weapon of social criticism. Here, in Amnesty Animal, the satirical intent, underlined by trenchant pencil strokes, takes on political overtones in a denunciation of the ill-treatment of animals.
In creating this at times realistic, at times whimsical animal world, Tomi Ungerer has used all sorts of different techniques – pencil, ink and colour wash, gouache, collage and recycled materials – separately or together. "When I draw animals, my pencil is a hunter's gun and my pen the syringe used in a laboratory experiment," he humorously observes.
Tomi Ungerer, Der kleine Unterschied, vers 1979
Reproduction offset © Diogenes Verlag AG Zurich \ Tomi Ungerer
Photo: Musées de la Ville de Strasbourg / M. Bertola