Dr. Seuss: The Cat Behind the Hat

( 2 )


An exuberant and beautifully produced book that juxtaposes the secret art of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel—the most beloved children’s author and illustrator of all time) with his iconic children's art.

This comprehensive look at the breadth of art that Theodor Geisel created over his lifetime is an eye-opening peek behind the public persona into the real story of the man who was Dr. Seuss.

 Illustrator by day, surrealist by night, Ted Geisel created a body of previously ...

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An exuberant and beautifully produced book that juxtaposes the secret art of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel—the most beloved children’s author and illustrator of all time) with his iconic children's art.

This comprehensive look at the breadth of art that Theodor Geisel created over his lifetime is an eye-opening peek behind the public persona into the real story of the man who was Dr. Seuss.

 Illustrator by day, surrealist by night, Ted Geisel created a body of previously little-known work during his leisure hours that he called his “Midnight Paintings,” and which is now known as “The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss.” This irrepressible and soulful collection redefines Ted Geisel as an iconic American artist. For sixty years, his “Secret Art” allowed Geisel to expand his artistic boundaries without the confines and pressures of commercial deadlines and influences. These paintings afforded the peaceful distraction that he craved, and through this work, the tenets of surrealism—surprise and juxtaposition—energized his sensibilities.


This volume exuberantly juxtaposes Geisel’s “Midnight Paintings” with his best-loved children’s books because this was how Dr. Seuss constructed his creative life—his days devoted to literature for children, his nights to letting his mind and palette wander to even stranger shores. Inevitably, Geisel created images in his private artworks that would find their way into his literary projects. Though he fiercely protected his “Secret Art” from criticism during his lifetime, his intention all along was for these works to be seen when he was gone.


It is downright absurd to make an art book on Dr. Seuss that attempts a straight chronology on the life and work of this multitalented author, illustrator, painter, sculptor, political cartoonist, adman, doodler, practical joker, and Cat Behind the Hat. Chronology is, in this case, an elusive term. His life meanders between so many facets of artistic impulses, with images cross-pollinating over years and even decades, that the chronological line of his life is as dippy and curved as the architectural elements of a house in Who-ville.

Therefore, this book is “chronological-ish.” That is to say, some things come at the right time and some at the wrong time. But just as Dr. Seuss taught us to look at life “through the wrong end of a telescope,” the iconic artwork packed into these pages helps us understand that it isn’t always a straight line from here to there that matters . . . but rather the fun of the journey that really counts.


Chapters include:


As Early as It Gets

Dr. Seuss and His Midnight Paintings


Very Early

Advertising and Editorial Work


Pretty Early

Collection of Unorthodox Taxidermy 


Still Early

Secrets of the Deep


Less Early

The War Years


No Longer Early

The Post-War Years


La Jolla Birdwomen
A Little Later
The Cat Behind the Hat
Even Later
The Grinch
A Smidge Later Than That
Happy Birthday To You!
Somewhat Later Still
Green Eggs and Ham
Significantly Later
Seussian Abstractions
As Late as it Gets
Oh, the Places You’ll Go!



This book is published by Chase Art Companies and distributed by Andrews McMeel Publishing.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Dr. Seuss is known universally; Theodor Geisel (1904-1991), his creator, still remains largely unknown two decades after his death. Only the most diligent of his admirers know that this prolific children's book author and illustrator by day led a double life, spending his leisure hours working on the surrealistic art that he called his "midnight paintings." Caroline M. Smith's winningly exuberant and eccentric biography presents a "chronological-ish" view of Geisel's life that captures the crookedness, juxtapositions, and intersections of his creative streams. Its illustrations of his private art provide telling glimpses into a mind that still delight more than fifty years after that Cat first jumped out of Theodor Geisel's hat.

Publishers Weekly
Those who know Dr. Seuss mostly via his Cat or Grinch will appreciate the portrait of the artist as a young man named Ted Geisel contained in this volume of reminiscences and art work (originally published as Secrets of the Deep). Geisel graduated from Dartmouth in 1925 and pursued graduate studies at Oxford, hoping to become a professor. A suggestion from his classmate and future wife prompted a move to New York City, where Geisel drew advertisements and cartoons. His early work balances naïveté and sophistication: the marrying bugs in "The Flit Gun Wedding" live under threat of insecticide, while a Ballyhoo magazine cover boy reads The Facts of Life. Even in his so-called serious artwork, Geisel seemed compelled to embellish his images with clever turns of phrase: a man carrying a very large, long-necked, yellow bird is described as "A Man Who Has Made an Unwise Purchase." Geisel's animal sculptures—the heads of imaginary creatures mounted like game for display—have wonderful monikers, such as "Semi-Normal Green-Lidded Fawn." The book also features original layouts from Geisel's most famous children's books. Altogether, this collection makes it easy to fall in love with Dr. Seuss again. Illus. (Nov.)
Library Journal
This beautifully produced book was originally published as Secrets of the Deep and accompanied a traveling exhibition, The Art of Dr. Seuss. Fans of Dr. Seuss (Ted Geisel) will find here many of the characters they've come to love, but the scope and intent of the book is to show that there is much more to Geisel's art than most realize, much of which is more appropriate for adults than children. Particularly striking are the examples of his "midnight paintings," images that he intended to be shown only after his death. The familiar humor, use of color and trademark fantastic creatures are present and recognizable but the work is clearly personal, beyond any limitations his image and commercial considerations may have imposed upon his other work. The book is rounded out with informative biographical text and other seldom-seen examples of Geisel's early illustration work and political satire. VERDICT An appealing gift book for Seuss and children's literature enthusiasts and a fine portrait of an important figure in American art, illustration, and children's literature.—Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781449432607
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/13/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 348,157
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Chase Art Companies:                       

Beyond the familiar faces featured in Dr. Seuss’s children’s books, Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) created a separate body of paintings and sculptures, which have rarely been seen by the public. Since 1997 Chase Art Companies has worked to bring this collection of artworks into the public view. Reproductions of those images, as well as limited editions derived from his original book illustrations, are exhibited in galleries and museums around the world alongside the works of Rembrandt, Picasso, Miró, and Warhol. To learn more about The Art of Dr. Seuss please visit www.DrSeussArt.com.


Lionheart Books is a packager located in Atlanta. Headed by former Turner publisher Michael Reagan, Lionheart has produced such New York Times best-sellers as The Complete Far Side and The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 4, 2013

    Beautiful coffee table book!

    This book has a lot of art from Dr. Seuss's early days, including sketches for what became his best selling titles. If you are a Dr. Seuss fan, this book is for you!

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  • Posted November 17, 2012

    The artwork looks nice. I never knew Dr. Seuss paints pictures

    The artwork looks nice. I never knew Dr. Seuss paints pictures

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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