Expect the unexpected!
“A self-taught raving maniac” Maurice Sendak, American writer and illustrator of children's literature when asked about Tomi Ungerer during one of his last interviews.
Sometimes you come across a movie which is a gemstone of compelling humanity and artistically relevant on many levels.
The haunting images of Tomi Ungerer, an artist who ‘chronicled the absurd’ was driven by his childhood traumas in no small part by formative years living in France under the Nazi occupation.
Strasbourg, in the Alsace region of France is, as Tomi says, is “The sphincter of France, and we are the first to know when France has an Indigestion”.
Born the youngest of 4 to a brilliant artistic father and educated mother, this time of his life helped shape the images that were to make him ‘an icon for a whole generation’ and help form (From his website) “important commentary on the social and political changes that have occurred since the second half of the 20th century”.
His illustrations in children’s books also churned ground so new that they were rejected by many yet seen as artistically cutting edged brilliant by others.
Using ‘lesser relevant’ animals such as snakes, bats and kangaroos as his palette he completely upended the common children’s book illustrations of the day which portrayed them as warm, cuddly and naïve. His art had them go to a space where they had to confront their own elements of fear (And thereby master them).
Drawn to The United States after the war with $60 in his pocket and an insatiable thirst to follow his artistic bent, he settled in New York. He was fortunate enough to arrive during the ‘golden age of illustration’ which was the ‘teens to the fifties.
National magazines with their stories and ads were buying illustrators work and making them commercially viable. During this time original artwork was the hallmark of many advertisers and drew Tomi into their world willingly and famously.
His tagline for the weekly periodical ‘The Village Voice’ in New York ‘Expect the Unexpected’ entered into the public lexicon.
The ‘vitality poignancy and wit’ of his Viet-Nam era peace posters had the thrust and strength of the Hitler era propaganda machine and will be remembered for all time for their hard hitting ‘got it in a second’ message.
To sum it all up, from film maker Brad Bernstein’s website, ‘Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story’ depicts one man’s wild, lifelong adventure of testing societal boundaries through his use of subversive art’.
Subversive in the sense that, ‘one man’s art’ can change your mind, ‘one man’s art’ can change the world, one man’s art can change art and your perception of it.
The musical track propels and gives movement to the words Tomi speaks on screen along with his images of a lifetime of not caring what the conventional art world thinks.
Each word a gem from a best-selling author in which his elements of fear are turned into a learning experience for children to adults.
Go see this movie at the 30th Annual Miami International; Film Festival and be moved.