On January 27, French artist and children’s book creator Hervé Tullet (Press Here; I Am Blop!) was feted at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh for the debut of his new first-of-its-kind exhibition, "Art Explosion: Pittsburgh." Housed in the museum’s Traveling Exhibit Gallery, the installation is a combination of new, original art pieces by Tullet and colorful mural-like works that Tullet created with local children last October during a series of Children’s Museum workshops. Known for his exuberant style and high-energy interactive sessions with kids, Tullet says the installation is “something new, that brings together what I’m doing in my artwork as an adult, but it’s related to art with children. I hope it’s a revelation, like the surprise you see when you turn a page, or rip a sheet of paper.”
Tullet worked on placing the artwork along the walls, draping 10-foot pieces over metal scaffolding, and fine-tuning some of his own pieces right up until opening day. “I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, if it would be what we wanted it to be when I looked at all the pieces of paper on the floor,” he said with a laugh. “We didn’t want it to look like a DIY thing, but a real exhibit. I’m very happy with what we’ve done.”
Mounting a mix of children’s work and professional art is “taking a big risk on purpose,” according to Colombine Depaire, who represents Tullet for various international art projects and events through her agency Picture This! The hope is that the young artists will be invested in seeing their work on display, and that it will survive being viewed and, likely, touched, by lots of visitors throughout the installation’s run (through February 26). But Depaire believes the kids’ experience in this case is all part of an essential life lesson. “If you don’t put art in the hands of kids, how do you teach them that you have to take care of special things?” she said.
And just in case visitors are a little overzealous, the museum has a number of replacement pieces on hand that can be switched in if need be. To cap off the celebratory opening weekend for Art Explosion: Pittsburgh, on January 28 and 29 Tullet signed books—which he typically personalizes with a drawing—and met with fans.
Tullet didn’t have much down time before he was at another event back in New York City, where he currently lives with his wife and daughter. On Sunday, February 5, Tullet took the stage at Symphony Space as part of the Thalia Kids’ Book Club series to read—with assistance from 120 kids in the audience—several of his books including Mix It Up and Game of Shadows, and discuss his work with fellow author-illustrator Chris Raschka.
Tullet guided the all-ages crowd through a series of fun drawing prompts, and answered questions from children in attendance. The presentation was followed by a book signing, where he again treated fans to personalized drawings.