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Tomi Ungerer (born 1931)
Black Power/White Power, 1967
offset lithograph
71 x 51 cm (28 x 20 in.)
Mary Haskell

Ungerer explains his incisive view of racial situations: "Iím just a spectator," he says of his work, "and I draw what I see and make my comments. Some of my books are nice, some are aggressive and despairing. We have all of these elements in us and I use all of them." From the heart of the civil rights movement, he ironically depicts the gulf between activists as each devours the other.

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Biography of Tomi Ungerer

Born in Strasbourg, France, Ungerer has lived and worked in a number of places in Europe and North America. After spending World War II in Nazi-occupied Alsace, he briefly attended the École des Arts Décoratifs there. Ungerer has stated that living under Nazi rule, combined with the death of his father when he was three, accounts for the dark nature of much of his work. From 1956 to the late 1960s he lived in New York; since then, he has resided in Nova Scotia, Strasbourg, and Ireland, among other places.

Ungerer's versatility has earned him enormous fame during the last quarter century. In addition to extensive advertising work for a number of commercial firms in Europe and America, he has written and illustrated scores of books for adults and children, such as The Three Robbers, and has executed paintings and sculptures and worked in television and publishing. The recipient of numerous graphic design awards, Ungerer has exhibited his work on three continents, including a 1981 retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

Ungerer has been linked to the tradition of earlier social commentators in the visual arts. His dark, biting, often bleakly humorous satire has drawn inevitable comparisons with William Hogarth, Honoré Daumier, and George Grosz. Although his range of influences is broad, from Albrecht Duhrer to Japanese artists such as Hokusai, Ungerer has referred to himself as a "street artist," recording the complexity and degradation of modern society in an unmistakable, spare, yet insistently biting drawing style.

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