Dancing by the Light of the Moon: The Art of Fred Marcellino

What's Pictured:
(Above) "And hand in hand . . . sand, They danced by the light of the moon, . . . " from The Pelican Chorus and Other Nonsense, 1995, watercolor, © Fred Marcellino

Celebrated artist and designer Fred Marcellino (1939-2001) changed the look and feel of book covers for contemporary fiction before becoming an author and illustrator of award-winning children’s literature. This exhibition features drawings and paintings for nine picture books including Puss in Boots; The Steadfast Tin Soldier; The Wainscott Weasel; I, Crocodile; and The Pelican Chorus and Other Nonsense — a collection of Edward Lear tales, among them The Owl and the Pussycat from which comes the sweetly familiar line: “They danced by the light of the moon.” Also on view is cover art for a dozen books including Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist.

Marcellino achieved early success as an illustrator and designer of record album covers before making his mark as a preeminent creator of elegant, eye-catching book jackets. In the mid-1980s, the artist turned his attention to children’s book illustration, finding he relished bringing characters to life across the pages of a book. With a penchant for exotic and historical settings, he chose manuscripts carefully for their intrigue, action, and humor. He researched and traveled extensively to ensure an authentic portrayal of time and place and he experimented with perspectives that placed readers in the middle of the action as well as above and below it. Fred Marcellino leaves a legacy of beautiful and compelling imagery for the ages.

This exhibition was organized by National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, Abilene, Texas, and is sponsored in part by Joslyn’s Young Art Patrons.

Original artwork from I, Crocodile, written and illustrated by Fred Marcellino, is featured in Joslyn's exhibition. In the story, an Egyptian crocodile lives happily in his new home in Paris, until a chef tries to turn him into dinner. The crocodile escapes through the sewers and lives to tell about his newest menu delight — people!

Click here to visit our multimedia page for a video of the book, narrated by Tim Curry, and comments about the work by Fred Marcellino.