Editor's note: The Norman Rockwell Museum provided source material to Resource Library Magazine for the following article. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact The Norman Rockwell Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:



 

Building Books: The Art of David Macaulay

November 13, 2004 - May 30, 2005

 

Journey Books: The Evolution of Ideas

 

 
David Macaulay
One DayA Young Lamb Accidentally Turned on a Television 1985
Illustration for Baaa
Ink and marker on paper
Collection of the artist
 
An Orwellian political satire, David Macaulay's Baaa is a timely fable that focuses on the foibles of the human, and the bovine, species. Masquerading as a children's picture book, it is filled with engaging, humorous illustrations that also offer pointed commentary on the problems of our modern world. The artist's story traces the rise and fall of civilization as societal progress is eroded by greed, disorder, and the lack of competent leadership.
 
In Baaa, the human race has disappeared and a flock of sheep in search of food wander into an abandoned town. There they feast on flower beds and potted plants, and eventually encounter all of the accoutrements of modern life ­ from television to supermarkets and institutions of higher learning. Before long, they even begin walking on two legs and wearing clothing, which they discover is often made of wool.
 
 
David Macaulay
Schools Were Established 1985
Illustration for Baaa
Ink and marker on paper
Collection of the artist
 
In this illustration, a well-educated sheep connects with the past as he ponders a human skull equipped with a headset. The artist explains that in bovine society, thoughts were had, careers were pursued, and bank accounts were opened."
 
 
David Macaulay
Sheep Marched into Town to See Their Leaders 1985
Illustration for Baaa
Ink and marker on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Before long, overpopulation and the over use of resources lead to food shortages, poverty, and crime. When the sheep marched to town for help, their leaders were tied up in meetings and could not be disturbed. They are seen here as shadowy figures in the lighted windows of the artist's drawing. Smiling eerily in contrast to the scene, the toy in the foreground was lost in a struggle between citizens and the troops that were sent in to keep the peace.
 
 
David Macaulay
The Remaining Leaders Were Unnecessary 1985
Illustration for Baaa
Ink and marker on paper
Collection of the artist
 
As societal pressures and conflicts continued, the town's population grew smaller and smaller until there were few inhabitants left. "With hardly anyone left to lead, the remaining leaders were unnecessary," the artist recounts, and "they, too, disappeared." In the book's epilogue, we learn that much later, a fish cautiously swam toward the beach. It considered coming onto land, but turned and swam in the opposite direction, perhaps in premonition of things to come.
 
 
 
 
David Macaulay
Desperate Dan Escaped from the Train 1987
Illustration for Why the Chicken Crossed the Road
Gouache and ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Humor was an important part of family life during David Macaulay's childhood, when jokes like "Why did the chicken cross the road?" and "What's black and white and read all over?" were classic favorites. Why The Chicken Crossed the Road is a light-hearted, circular tale about the process of cause and effect. In the artist's story, every action ­ no matter how small ­ has a reaction. When a chicken crosses the road it triggers a domino effect of events that involve a herd of cows, a passing train, a local fire department, and a crafty burglar named Desperate Dan, who appears throughout the book, and later, in Black and White.
 
Why the Chicken Crossed the Road book provided David Macaulay with a much-needed break from The Way Things Work, a comprehensive, non-fiction volume that took four years to complete. Why the Chicken Crossed the Road was done in just six weeks, from start to finish. In this illustration, Desperate Dan escapes from a train after stealing the contents of the safe. As he disappears into the woods, "his sack tore on some brambles, and one by one, his ill-gotten gains slipped through the hole."
 
 
David Macaulay
Mr. FletcherPromptly Called the Fire Department 1987
Illustration for Why the Chicken Crossed the Road
Gouache and ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
In Why the Chicken Crossed the Road, David Macaulay experimented with the use of eye-catching primary colors and broad, flat shapes that are in keeping with the tone of the book. Mrs. Fletcher is seen here climbing the ladder to the water tank. In the story, the tank's pipe gets clogged because the gold watch, seen in the previous illustration, has been picked up and dropped into it by a passing bird. One event leads to the next as the smoke of an unseen train in the distance prompts her to call the fire truck, which breaks an electric line, which causes ice to melt and flood a city street as time moves forward.
 
 
 
 
 
David Macaulay
Seeing Things 1990
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
 
A highly original and experimental book, David Macaulay's Black and White continues his exploration of the connections between people and events. Designated the most distinguished American picturebook for children by the American Library Association in 1991, this Caldecott Medal work results from what the artist calls "seven years of failed attempts" at books about journeys focusing on travelers unaware of the effects of their actions on others.
 
In the book, each double page spread advances four story lines, which may be read and interpreted individually or as one. The artist's simultaneous narration introduces us to a boy traveling alone by train, the antics of two children and their parents, commuters at a railway station, and a herd of Holstein cows that fade in and out of sight.
 
 
David Macaulay
Udder Chaos 1990
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
For David Macaulay, Udder Chaos is a witty play on words. When conceptualizing and designing books, the artist has described his efforts to extract meaning and order from a disparate collection of elements as "utter chaos." In this cleverly designed image, the artist's recurring character, Desperate Dan, enters the scene. Camouflaged against a backdrop of boldly patterned black and white Holsteins that travel through the book, he has found the perfect hiding place.
 
 
David Macaulay
The Journey Will Take All Night
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Each of the story sequences in Black and White is painted in a particular way to help readers make visual connections as they turn the pages of the book. The artist's style and technique is varied exquisitely from one frame to the next, creating a sense of mood and atmosphere. On each left-facing page, impressionistic watercolors trace the boy's solitary journey home and sepia-toned domestic scenes recall old family photos. On the right, a color-washed rail station teems with life and an army of lost Holsteins move in and out of abstraction.
 
 
David Macaulay
A Waiting Game
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
 
David Macaulay
The Boy Can Just Make Out What Looks Like a Row of Boulders 1990
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Irony and playful deception are running themes in this multidimensional, nonlinear book that aims to prove that there is no such thing as black and white. Throughout the piece, picture and story elements evolve and overlap from frame to frame. The boy looking out the train window in this illustration, for example, sees something far in the distance. We learn later that what first appeared to be a row of boulders was actually a herd of cows crossing the railroad tracks.
 
 
David Macaulay
Ask Any Farmer 1990
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
 
David Macaulay
You Can't Move Rocks by Just Shouting at Them 1990
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
The repetition of visual elements in David Macaulay's illustrations creates a sense of unity among what appear to be disparate scenes. In the image on the lower half of the page, for example, the dog's black and white patterned coat almost replicates that of the Holsteins, and the boy wears a striped shirt just like Desperate Dan. The model train and station beneath the television stand also reflect their real-life counterparts.
 
 
David Macaulay
That Train Will Be Slightly Delayed 1990
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
 
David Macaulay
They Float Off the Tracks 1990
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Newspapers appear throughout the book with a nod to the time-honored question, "what's black and white and read all over?" Read by commuters waiting for the train and by exhausted parents after a long day at the office, they are eventually transformed into fanciful costumes that bring joy to a busy, modern-day family and patient commuters.
 
 
David Macaulay
Choir Festival 1990
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
In a wonderful twist, cow's udders become part of a church choir joined by Desperate Dan, whose tell-tale black mask gives him away.
 
 
David Macaulay
When the Last One is Gone 1990
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
 
David Macaulay
They're No Easier to Find at Night 1990
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
 
David Macaulay
He Sees Them Standing Beside the Train 1990
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
 
David Macaulay
The Train is Now Arriving on Platform One 1990
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
 
David Macaulay
What a Journey You Must Have Had 1990
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
At the end of this intriguing collection of related tales, all of the travelers return from their journeys. The young boy comes home to his mother, though we never actually learn where he's been. The family is back from dinner at a favorite fish and chips restaurant, where their meal was wrapped in newspaper, of all things. A janitor sweeps up the remnants of the festivities after the commuters have finally boarded the train. And, we learn that no matter how far they go, cows always come back at milking time.
 
 
David Macaulay
They Always Come Back 1990
Illustration for Black and White
Ink and gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
 
 
 
 
David Macaulay
Albert, June and Friends 1995
Illustration for Shortcut
Ink, marker and colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
In Shortcut, David Macaulay applies his vast imagination and keen sense of humor to a string of seemingly minor occurrences that, seen as a whole, have far reaching affects. Composed of nine chapters and an epilogue recounting the antics of the lovable but eccentric characters illustrated here, the book evolved from a single, funny drawing of a cow being wisked along on a cow-catcher, which he enjoyed. In the end, the cow was replaced with an unlikely pig in an even funnier scenario. The artist's journey books have no clear beginning, middle, or end at the outset, and make full use of the element of surprise. Sketches and notes are eventually organized to suggest a possible sequence and story.
 
 
David Macaulay
To Save Time, They Will Take the Shortcut 1995
Illustration for Shortcut
Ink, marker and colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
A masterful pen and ink artist, David Macaulay is also a gifted colorist. While his strong sense of line is still present, Shortcut's humorous narrative inspired him to experiment with a dazzling color palette that helps to unify the overlapping series of tales from beginning to end.
 
 
David Macaulay
June is Very Hungry 1995
Illustration for Shortcut
Ink, marker and colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
A cross between comedy and chaos, Shortcut celebrates the happy accident. In this illustration, which places the reader on the railroad track, Albert's horse June dines innocently on some tasty clover while he enjoys lunch at the Railway Café. June is tied to a railway switch that is unwittingly moved during her meal, changing the path of train and causing some problems for Patty, her pig, Pearl, and others later on. The artist engages our powers of memory and observation when reading Shortcut, which play a crucial role as the worlds of his characters become intertwined in unexpected ways. He also leads us to ponder how our own actions may be impacting the events of the future.
 
 
David Macaulay
A Rope Blocks Their Path ­ But Not for Long 1995
Illustration for Shortcut
Ink, marker and colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
 
David Macaulay
Their Wagon is Soon Empty 1995
Illustration for Shortcut
Ink, marker and colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
 
David Macaulay
They Are Home Before Dark 1995
Illustration for Shortcut
Ink, marker and colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Having sold all of their melons in the village square, Albert and June are seen here settling in for the night in front of the television set. In keeping with the artist's appreciation for a good visual pun, both man and horse have kicked off their shoes to relax.
 
 
David Macaulay
Heading Straight for the Cathedral Town of Fauxville 1995
Illustration for Shortcut
Ink, marker and colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
 
Professor Tweet spent days studying bird behavior with his hot air balloon tied safely to a tree. Look back to the image of Albert and June, impeded by a rope that crosses their path, to understand why Professor Tweet's balloon has suddenly taken flight. Nothing is quite as it seems in Shortcut, which is underscored by the choice of Fauxville as the town's name.
 
 
David Macaulay
And Just in Time 1995
Illustration for Shortcut
Ink, marker and colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
A visual feast, David Macaulay's images take us on a cinematic journey that record the action from a variety of dramatic perspectives. In this illustration, we get a glimpse of Professor Tweet's hot air balloon from below as it barely misses the chimney of a house and its resident family of pigeons. These hearty birds also figure prominently in two subsequent picturebooks, Rome Antics and Angelo.
 
 
David Macaulay
The Train Rolls on Toward the End of the Line 1995
Illustration for Shortcut
Ink, marker and colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
In the book, the train speeds along an abandoned line of track, severing an unsuspecting family's camper and crossing an ancient trestle bridge, which crumbles behind it. More danger lurks ahead, as seen in the next image.
 
 
David Macaulay
The End of the Line 1995
Illustration for Shortcut
Ink, marker and colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
 
David Macaulay
It is Still a Long, Long Way 1995
Illustration for Shortcut
Ink, marker and colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
 
David Macaulay
By the Time She ArrivesShe is Out of Luck 1995
Illustration for Shortcut
Ink, marker and colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
David Macaulay allows the reader to see far more than any of the characters in his book, who are only aware of their own situations. In this bird's eye view, Sybil is racing off to market in her red sports car, knocking down anything in her path. She is hoping to buy some melons from Albert and June, but as we have already discovered, they are all sold out.
 
 
David Macaulay
There is Only One Place Left to Look 1995
Illustration for Shortcut
Ink, marker and colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
In this illustration, the artist shifts the scale of his subject dramatically. Young Patti is seen against a vast horizon in search of her pig, Pearl, who is nowhere in sight. The restful horizontal lines in this composition are in contrast to the more active diagonal lines that create a sense of action throughout the book.
 
 
David Macaulay
It Finally Comes to Rest at the End of the Beach 1995
Illustration for Shortcut
Ink, marker and colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
At the end of the line, the misdirected train finally comes to a full stop. In the epilogue, we learn that Patti's pig, Pearl, who had been swept up by the speeding train, was thrust into the sand by the force of the engine but came away from it all with barely a scratch.
The two go almost everywhere together from that day on, but never by train.
 
 
 
 
 
David Macaulay
She is Getting Close, Appian Way 1997
Illustration for Rome Antics
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
In 1969, during his fifth year as an architectural student at Rhode Island School of Design, David Macaulay participated in a European honors program at Palazzo Cenci in Rome, Italy, and his love affair with the city began. In his "favorite place in the world," the past and present constantly intersect. While studying there, the artist became familiar with the city's museum treasures, magnificent architecture and cobblestone streets, drawing at every opportunity. Since then, he has returned to Rome many times for refreshment and rejuvenation, and the city's ancient buildings and baroque piazza's hold a prominent place in his published work.
 
In Rome Antics, David Macaulay takes us on a topsy-turvy tour of Rome, where simply turning a corner offers surprises, and two thousand-year-old inscriptions share wall space with neon signs. With the help of a wayward homing pigeon from the Italian hills, we soar over sun-baked terracotta rooftops and hurtle down narrow cobblestones to the city's most ancient structures, from the Arch of Constantine to the Colosseum and the Pantheon. It took the artist more than ten years to create a cohesive work inspired by his affection for the city ­ the result of hundreds of drawings and drafts created during over time.
 
 
David Macaulay
She is Circling the Most Famous Amphitheater in the World, Colosseum 1997
Illustration for Rome Antics
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
In David Macaulay's books about Rome, architecture takes center stage and is woven beautifully into a visual and literary narrative. Rome Antics follows a homing pigeon's quest to deliver a note from a woman in a peaceful hill town to an artist at his drawing board in the heart of the city. Hunger, homesickness, exhaustion, and near disasters do not dissuade the bird from her appointed task, and we are lucky enough to go along for the ride. In this beautifully detailed pen and ink view of the Colosseum, we hover above the two-thousand-year-old amphitheater that held fifty thousand spectators at a time.
 
 
David Macaulay
She Narrowly Escapes a Disastrous Encounter, Cornice, Palazzo Farnese 1997
Illustration for Rome Antics
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
David Macaulay's dramatic shifts in perspective inspire readers to see things as they never have before. Here, the pigeon's near collision with an ornate cornice of the Palazzo Farnese allows us to marvel at the beauty of its ornamentation. Michelangelo actually designed this impressive cornice, which defines the top of the largest palace in Rome.
 
 
David Macaulay
She is Soon Comforted by the Sight and Smell of Food, Campo dei Fiori 1997
Illustration for Rome Antics
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Hungry from her long journey, the pigeon is comforted by the sight and smell of food in the Campo dei Fiori, a busy outdoor market and gathering place that is known for its cafés and restaurants. Thought we see the bird only at the beginning and the end of the journey, her presence is felt in the story's narrative and symbolized by a lyrical red line that sweeps through the book.
 
 
David Macaulay
Rudely Interrupted by a Careless Scooter 1997
Illustration for Rome Antics
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
In this beautifully conceived pen and ink drawing, we are treated to a glimpse of a narrow, cobblestone street where the old and the new come together. A poster announcing a jazz event is hung below a religious icon that is likely centuries old. A spectacled woman peers out her door, startled by the commotion caused by a motor scooter. Her home, which may be hundreds of years old, is equipped with a modern announcement system. And the letters SPQR on the manhole cover and fire hydrant stand for the Latin phrase, Senatus Populusque Romanus, which means "the Senate and the people of Rome." Carved in stone above the Forum's triumphal arches, the letters link modern Rome with its rich past.
 
 
David Macaulay
Rudely Interrupted by a Careless Scooter 1997
Study for Rome Antics
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Originally intended to be a finished drawing for the book, this image was ultimately set aside in favor of the one above. Take a moment to compare the two artworks. In this piece, David Macaulay felt that the Madonna had become too dark, and there is no turning back when working in ink. He also decided to remove the tail end of the scooter from the scene, indicating the vehicle's presence only by a stream of smoke in the final. What other adjustments to this study did the artist make?
 
 
David Macaulay
A Sudden Collision Sends Her Reeling 1997
Illustration for Rome Antics
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
After an unsuccessful attempt to land, an unfortunate run in with a soccer ball sends the bird reeling. Two lost feathers and the upside down orientation of the Santa Marie della Pace tell us that all is not well at the moment. This beautiful church dates back to the fifteenth century.
 
 
David Macaulay
Perhaps the Scenic Route Was Not Such a Good Idea 1997
Illustration for Rome Antics
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
When teaching illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, David Macaulay encouraged his students to be passionate about their work and to look at things from as many vantage points as possible. Standing next to a very tall building while looking up produces some dizzying effects, which are reflected in this image.
 
 
David Macaulay
She Descends Towards and Open Door, Pantheon 1997
Illustration for Rome Antics
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
The contrast of light and dark creates a sense of drama as the sun streams through the hole in the Pantheon's massive concrete dome. Designed by the Emperor Hadrian in the second century as a temple to the gods, it has just one source of light ­ a round opening in the roof called the oculus. Sun, rain, and snow all enter the building through the roof, which was patterned with trapezoidal recesses called coffers to reduce its weight.
 
 
David Macaulay
Blinding Sunlight and Imposing Granite Columns, Pantheon 1997
Illustration for Rome Antics
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
In early drafts of this story, the artist's narrative and artwork followed the comic antics of several Roman characters whose fates were intertwined. By the time he began work on the final version, most of the characters had been removed from the mix, and the centerpiece became the city itself. In this illustration, however, a vendor in dark glasses looks out at us from the lower right, inviting us to have a look at his wares. His presence, and that of the woman in the center of the image, emphasizes the massive scale of the Pantheon's stone columns.
 
 
David Macaulay
Slightly Bruised, She Considers Entering the Daily Sleeping Contest, Pantheon 1997
Illustration for Rome Antics
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Nesting pigeons and the debris they create challenge conservators and craftspeople in Rome who toil to keep the city's ancient buildings in tact. Seen here on the ledge of the Pantheon's entablature, pigeons and their intersections with architecture served as an inspiration for the artist's subsequent book, Angelo, as well.
 
 
David Macaulay
She Firmly Resolves to Stay on Course, Piazza de Sant'Ignazio 1997
Illustration for Rome Antics
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
In this drawing, we look straight up at the sky, which is framed by the symmetrical Piazza de Sant'Ignazio. Linked by curvilinear shapes, the buildings surrounding the plaza include the church of Sant'Ignazio di Loyola and The Gesù, the church of the Jesuits built between 1568 and 1584. Seen in the upper portion of this image, the graceful wide scroll buttresses of The Gesù also appear in the next illustration, and serve as the inspiration for rousing gymnastic feats.
 
 
David Macaulay
A Marble Scroll Inspires More Athletic Behavior, The Gesù 1997
Illustration for Rome Antics
Ink and colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Many of David Macaulay's images for Rome Antics feature a graceful red line that symbolizes the flight of the homing pigeon as it travels throughout the city. These drawings were completed in two layers ­ a black and white ink drawing and a tracing paper overlay containing nothing but a red colored pencil line. This separation allowed the artist to experiment with the movement and quality of the line without disturbing his complex architectural drawing underneath.
 
 
David Macaulay
Two Squawking Birds Remind Her to Avoid the Dog 1997
Illustration for Rome Antics
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
David Macaulay encourages us to make visual connections as we turn the pages of his books. Could the scooter parked in front of the artist's building be the same one that whizzed down another cobblestone street before?
 
 
David Macaulay
The Man Removes the Strip of Paper from Her Leg 1997
Illustration for Rome Antics
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Hard at work in a studio filled with architectural drawings that look remarkably like David Macaulay's, an artist puts his hand out to greet the homing pigeon after her grueling journey.
 
 
David Macaulay
Yes 1997
Illustration for Rome Antics
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
At the end of this delightful tale, the artist removes the paper note from the pigeon's leg to find that it says, simply, "Yes." The homing pigeon, seen for only the second time in the book, seems to approve.
 
 
 
 
 
David Macaulay
Angelo Cleared Away the Tangle of Sticks and Feathers 2002
Illustration for Angelo
Ink and marker on paper
Collection of the artist
 
David Macaulay describes himself as a "sentimental guy" who occasionally indulges in a good cry at the movies, but the subject of human emotion had not been a central theme in the artist's work until he created Angelo. Set in his beloved city of Rome, this poignant work tells the tale of an enduring friendship between a extraordinary pigeon named Sylvia and the elderly Italian craftsman who becomes her reluctant savior.
 
About to embark on the restoration of the façade of a once-glorious church, Angelo is seen here clearing away the years of debris left behind by pigeons who nest in the building's nooks and crannies. As he sweeps away the tangle of sticks and feathers along the ledges, he discovers a wounded bird, whom he almost mistakes for an abandoned nest. The shift in emphasis from the nuts and bolts of the building process to the transformative power of enduring relationships speaks to his awareness of the passage of time and the importance of family and friends in the artist's own life.
 
 
David Macaulay
At First He Mistook Her for Another Abandoned Nest 2002
Illustration for Angelo
Ink and marker on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Coaxing her with the end of his broom, Angelo finds that the pigeon is unable to move, and decides to work around. The artist's expressive use of color and line throughout the book inspires our engagement with this gentle narrative. His illustrations seem infused with a terra cotta glow that reflects the story's Mediterranean setting.
 
 
David Macaulay
He Scooped the Helpless Creature Up in His Hat 2002
Illustration for Angelo
Ink and marker on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Seen together side by side in his book, these two illustrations portray Angelo's trip home with Sylvia from two diverse perspectives. In an image that is reminiscent of a treasure map, a clearly marked path leading from work to home is shown from above as it weaves its way through a clutter of Roman rooftops. On the right, humor and pathos are intertwined as Angelo heads for home with pigeon in hat, unaware of the commotion unfolding behind him on the crowded, cobblestone street.
 
 
David Macaulay
But You Sleep on the Terrace 2002
Illustration for Angelo
Ink and marker on paper
Collection of the artist
 
 
Begrudgingly at first, Angelo brings Sylvia home to recuperate. He intends for her to sleep on the terrace, but a hungry cat waits on a rooftop nearby, cleaning its paws. Humor and ingenuity abound in David Macaulay's illustration of a makeshift hospital bed for the sick bird. Bandaged from head to tail, the patient receives water through a straw propped up by pencils. Metal washers serve as weights that elevate her broken leg, and a photograph pinned to the wall provides a comforting reminder of home.
 
 
David Macaulay
She Would Stop By and Watch Angelo Work 2002
Illustration for Angelo
Ink and marker on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Seen here in the foreground, Sylvia has regained her health, and stops by to see Angelo at work on the scaffolding in the distance. As months pass, she notices that he is slowing down, taking longer to mix his stucco than before.
 
 
David Macaulay
She Saw That for the First Time in Months He Was Happy 2002
Studies for Angelo
Mixed media on paper
Collection of the artist
 
These moving drawings illustrate beautifully the deep affection that Angelo and Sylvia came to feel for each other. As the story nears its end, Angelo confronts his own mortality and worries for the bird's future after he is gone. His provision for her was one that would endure for generations to come. Between the cherubs in the highest reaches of the church's façade, he lovingly built a nest made of stucco that could never be swept away. David Macaulay experimented with color, line and composition in these studies, which were eventually rejected as too sentimental. The final piece, which was not available for exhibition, can be seen on page forty-one in the book. Take a few moments to compare and contrast these studies with the image in the book, and consider the choices that the artist made.
 
 
David Macaulay
The Pigeons Come for Angelo 2002
Study for Angelo
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
David Macaulay's architectural books emphasize the long-term commitment that craftsmen make to the projects they undertake. The heroes of his stories do not necessarily live to see their work unveiled. In this tale, Angelo passes away "amid a tangle of sticks and feathers" before the scaffolding has been removed from his final, triumphant restoration. His legacy is evident, however. In the last image of the book, Sylvia and two small chicks look out over the city of Rome from the stucco nest that Angelo built for them.
 
The artist experimented with several potential endings for Angelo that were eventually rejected. One such scenario is seen here as Angelo reaches toward the heavens, awaiting the embrace of the pigeons, who take him away at the end of his life.
 
 

Wall and label text from the exhibition:

Introduction
Big Ideas! Looking at Architecture with David Macaulay
Building Ship: The Artist's Process
 

Exhibition checklist

Back to first page


Visit the Table of Contents for Resource Library Magazine for thousands of articles and essays on American art, calendars, and much more.

Copyright 2003, 2004 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.