From my review of Vermont illustrator David Macaulay’s exhibit “Building Books” at the RISD Museum:
“Building Books” (through February 1) features art by RISD alum (BArch 1969) and former teacher David Macaulay of Vermont. He’s the Caldecott Medal-winning author and illustrator of picture books, including “Black and White,” “The Way Things Work,” and the just-published “The Way We Work.” This strong exhibit could be titled “The Way Macaulay Works,” because it is stuffed with sketches, photos, and models, as well as the final paintings and drawings they lead to.Read the rest here.
Early sketches for what became 1973’s “Cathedral” reveal that Macaulay originally intended the book to be about a boy’s adventures with animated gargoyles. An editor suggested he focus on the church building instead and so helped him find the basis of his career. Macaulay is an uneven artist, without much feel for color or rendering people. He’s sharpest with pen and ink, though his copious hatching can feel more workmanlike than dramatic. But what has wowed young readers for 35 years is a knack for clear explanations, dramatic angles, and romantic history.
“Building Books: The Art of David Macaulay,” RISD Museum, 20 North Main St. Providence, Sept. 27, 2008, to Feb 11, 2009.
Pictured from top to bottom: Page from David Macaulay’s 1973 book “Cathedral” and Macaulay in his studio.