Have You Seen Birds?
Joanne Oppenheim ~ Julio de Diego
Young Scott, 1968
I almost wasn't going to write about this book today, as I know sometimes I overwhelm with the bird books, but then I dug a little deeper into the artist and decided to share the intrigue. Have You Seen Birds? was re-illustrated in a more contemporary edition, but I couldn't find much on this original. However, there is a ton about the artist. It's not often you see someone who was considered a fine art painter delve into the world of children's books. It makes me so curious as to how it came about. A Spaniard by birth, he (not surprisingly) conceived carnival performances, designed opera sets, was a jeweler and lithographer, and was married to Gypsy Rose Lee for a spell. (Here's a picture of them together from the Life Magazine archives.) His paintings have been shown all over the world, in a fascinating life story that ended in Sarasota, Florida, which if you've never been there, has a colorful artistic history unto its own. So, how did he find his way here, painting these fluid birds for children? Curiouser and curiouser.
Have you seen birds?
Bug-sized small birds?
Long-legged tall birds?
meadow tan or fancy fan.
Have you seen birds?
Was this the only book he did? And who did he meet that inspired him or charged him to paint a children's book? Gosh, I almost can't stand it sometimes, the amount of talent in the world, swirling around. And the ones who get remembered the most, how is that decided? To me, that's the best thing about the Internet. Books like these would have slowly crumbled away, one by one. But now, somewhere in cyberspace, each one is getting slowly chronicled or remembered or talked about. Will the Internet last forever? Will it be able to handle all the information and images it gets filled with everyday? What happens when blogs like these go and someone stops paying for the domain names? Where does it go then? It's hurts my brain almost as much as thinking about the universe itself does.
All cosmic woes aside, this is a beautiful little book filled with all sorts of fabulous notions about our winged-friends. I'm glad I reconsidered it this morning.
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