Golden Legacy: Original Art from 75 Years of Golden Books debuted at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) as Golden Legacy: Original Art from 65 Years of Golden Books in the fall of 2007. Curated by Leonard Marcus, this is the most extensive public showing of original illustration art from American publishing’s most loved and consequential picture-book series, Little Golden Books. Celebrating its sixty-fifth anniversary in 2007, this exhibition continues to enthrall audiences during its travels. To celebrate it’s seventy-five years, this exhibition has been updated with the addition of artwork from contemporary Little Golden book artists.
Launched in 1942—the first full year of America’s involvement in the Second World War—Little Golden Books made high quality illustrated books available at affordable prices for the first time to millions of young children and their parents. Among the artists who contributed to the ambitious projects were the greats of the European émigré community (including Garth Williams, Feodor Rojankovsky, and Tibor Gergely) who had gathered in New York as the conditions in Europe worsened; alumni of the Walt Disney Studios (including Gustaf Tenggren, Martin Provensen, J.P. Miller, and Mary Blair), who came East for the artistic freedom and control associated with picture-book making; and such American originals as Eloise Wilkin, Elizabeth Orton Jones, Richard Scarry, and Hilary Knight.
Sixty-five masterpieces of original illustration art by these and other artists—chosen from the vast Random House archive—are featured in the exhibition, including art from such picture-book classics as The Poky Little Puppy, Tootle, Home for a Bunny, The Kitten who thought he was a Mouse, The Color Kittens, I Can Fly, and more.
Artists exhibited in the show include: Tibor Gergely, Elizabeth Orton Jones, Eloise Wilkin, Aurelius Battaglia, Sheilah Beckett, Garth Williams, Richard Scarry, Gertrude Elliot, Alice and Martin Provensen, Corinne Malvern, Leonard Weisgard, Jan Pfloog, Feodor Rojankovsky, A.Birnbaum, Mary Blair, Trina Schart Hyman, J.P.Miller, Gustaf Tenggren, Bob Staake, Dan Yaccarino, Hilary Knight, David Diaz, Nicola Slater, Brigette Barrager, and Annie Won.