Tomi Ungerer’s illustrations, for a time, helped define Madison Ave. His work appeared in Esquire, Life, Harper’s Bazaar, The Village Voice and The New York Times. He drew the iconic Dr. Strangelove movie poster.
“Tomi influenced everybody,” said his friend and author/illustrator, Maurice Sendak. “No one, I dare say, no one was as original as Tomi Ungerer.” His distinct form of simple line drawing practically screams “the Sixties.” Ungerer drew political cartoons, illustrated iconic childrens books, such as Flat Stanley as well as drawing darkly pornographic artwork based around sadomasochistic themes.
His 1970 project, The Fornicon, was a series of shocking, yet comic depictions of gyrating, wiggling and penetrating sexual S&M machinery and people, er… interacting with it. It came in various forms including a large hardback and a folio in a box with loose sheets. You can find good copies of the book in the $50 range on ABE Books and Ebay, but the folio is much more expensive.
Predictably Ungerer’s career as the illustrator of childrens books came to an abrupt end after his self-publication of The Fornicon! Ungerer returned to childrens books in 1998. The French city of Strasbourg, Ungerer’s birthplace, has given him his own museum.
A Perpetual Outsider With a Museum of His Own