Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A & M Provensen

There may be no illustrator couple more unique than Alice & Martin Provensen. From their early days as Disney and Walter Lantz studio animators, the Provensens went on to craft 51 books in a great variety of styles, many of them inspiringly experimental.
From a February 2006 article in The Boston Globe:
After they moved to a farm not far from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 1951, they experimented stylistically while working at back-to-back drawing boards. (It was around here that they also dabbled in advertising, helping create Tony the Tiger for Kellogg's.) For 1962's ''Shakespeare: Ten Great Plays," they made beautiful mottled ink drawings by sketching atop wet paper. Another time, Alice said, ''We'd paint the whole background and run it under the faucet, and whatever stayed on was the background."

* These images plus several more can be found at full size in my A & M Provensen Flickr set.


  1. I had that Aesop's fable book as a kid. It left an impression on me - I remember every page vividly. It was MY book in a large family where property was public or soon became. Still, the illustrations in this book made me nervous, but I think that may have been the point.

  2. You always have great inspiration here Leif! Drazen found the Illustrated Shakespeare book for me last year while we were at the Royal Winter Fair, BEAUTIFUL work indeed! I didn't realize how they did those illustrations, but now I know. Thanks!

  3. Great stuff, thanks for sharing.

  4. Karen; its funny how illustrations can have such a visceral effect on us as children, isn't it? I felt the same way about Disney's Snow White story book - that old hag passing Snow White the poison apple through the window of the Seven Dwarves' house... brrr! ;-)

    smook; Drazen is the man - you're very fortunate to have a friend who would give you such a fine gift. thanks for commenting!

    eric; my pleasure - and everyone should check out eric's excellent blog, especially if you favour storybook styles. ;-)

  5. Wow Leif, what amazing stuff.
    I´m beloved fan of Provensens, and I keep near of me my original "Illiad and Odissey" American copy.
    I had the beautifull "The charge of the light Birgade".
    I´ll try to scan some samples to you.
    I´m still looking for the Einsels stuff I did promise you. But I´m afraid the GRAPHICS magazines are lost...

  6. Thanks for commenting, Javier - I'm glad to have found some Provensen art that you maybe didn't see before.

    BTW, your artwork continues to amaze me - absolutely fantastic! ;-)

  7. Anonymous6:39 PM

    Just a little note from Alice and Martin's nephew....they INVENTED Tony the Tiger, and Katie the Kangaroo for Kelloggs, I should know, I, and my little brother in the early 50s were part of a childrens group brought together to access which charters we liked best. Tony and Katie were the winners.........Erik Provensen