Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, is probably most famous for the iconic children’s book “The Cat in the Hat.”
But Geisel’s love of hats went deeper than dressing up one of his most famous characters in one.
The American artist, who died in 1991 at the age of 87, collected hundreds of hats over his lifetime, squirreling them away in a hidden closet at his estate. Many of the often unusual hats will see the light of day at Lake Tahoe starting this weekend, with the arrival of the “Hats Off to Dr. Suess!” exhibition.
“In his artwork, as in his personal life, Dr. Seuss saw hats as transformational,” according to a press release for the exhibition. “And from the time he was a small boy in Springfield, Massachusetts, he was aware of their inherent magic. Far beyond their functionality, hats were the accent — the exclamation point — on a person’s behavior. They could entertain, delight and embellish, even tease and taunt, but most of all, hats helped Dr. Seuss deliver a world of life-changing inspiration.
“The first recorded mention of Dr. Seuss’s hat collection came from his sister, Marnie, who visited Ted in New York in the autumn of 1937. She reported in the Springfield Union-News, November 28, 1937, ‘Ted has another peculiar hobby—that of collecting hats of every description. Why, he must have several hundred and he is using them as the foundation of his next book. I have seen him put on an impromptu show for guests, using the hats as costumes. He has kept a whole party in stitches just by making up a play with kitchen knives and spoons for the actors.’”
Traveling in a specially retrofitted old fashioned steamer trunk, this exhibition premiered at the New York Public Library in February 2013 and has made a handful of stops across the country. “Hats Off to Dr. Seuss!” runs from May 17 to June 22 at Marcus Ashley Fine Art Gallery at 4000 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
“The Hats Off to Dr. Seuss! Lake Tahoe exhibition will feature Dr. Seuss’s never-before-seen hat collection alongside his little-known Secret Art, a series of Estate authorized works adapted and reproduced from Ted Geisel’s original drawings, paintings, and sculpture,” according to the press release. “This historic collection has opened the world’s eyes to the extraordinary artistic talent of Dr. Seuss and will be available for viewing and purchase through the run of the exhibition.”
Dr. Seuss is best known as one of the bestselling children’s authors of all time, having written and illustrated classics such as “Green Eggs and Ham” and “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” Geisel was also a political cartoonist during World War II and a contributing illustrator for “Vanity Fair” and “Life.”
Also arriving with the exhibition are signed “Green Eggs and Ham: Would You? Could You? In a Car” serigraph prints featuring the signature of racecar driver Jeff Gordon, whose foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for pediatric cancer.