hampshire college campus 2019

News & Events

Hampshire College Mourns the Loss of Author and Illustrator Eric Carle

The Hampshire College community is deeply saddened to hear of Eric Carle’s passing. Carle co-founded The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, located on the Hampshire College campus, in 2002.

Eric Carle
Eric Carle photo by Motoko Inoue

The Hampshire College community is deeply saddened to hear of Eric Carle’s passing. Carle co-founded The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, located on the Hampshire College campus, in 2002.

Below is an announcement from the Carle family:

The Carle family announces with great sadness that Eric Carle, beloved artist, illustrator, and writer, passed away peacefully and surrounded by family members on May 23, 2021 at his summer studio in Northampton, Massachusetts. Eric was 91.

A true creator, Eric Carle is renowned for his multi-dimensional practice, spanning a large body of fine art works in collage, painting, works on paper and fabric, and sculpture; theater and furniture design; and the stories he envisioned in over 70 brilliantly illustrated and designed children’s picture books. The books Eric created across more than 6 decades have sold over 170 million copies and include timeless classics such as Do You Want to Be My Friend? (1971), The Grouchy Ladybug (1977), Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me (1986), "Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," said the Sloth (2002), The Very Clumsy Cricket (2017), and so many more. His best-known work, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has been translated into over 70 languages and shared around the world since its publication in 1969.

Bright collage images, imaginative stories, and little details – die cut pages, a firefly’s twinkling lights, a quiet cricket’s song – made Eric’s illustrations uniquely playful. Eric was the recipient of the 2003 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award (now called Children’s Literature Legacy Award) and held eight honorary degrees, including from Williams College and Amherst College. He remains an important influence on artists and illustrators at work today.

A child at heart, the secret to Eric’s incredible legacy as a creator of picture books lay in his intuitive understanding of young minds—their feelings and their inquisitiveness, their creativity, and their intellectual growth. Besides being beautiful and entertaining, his books always offer children the opportunity to learn something about the world around them and encourage them to engage as artists themselves. It was in this spirit that Eric and his wife Bobbie Carle (1938-2015) co-founded The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in 2002. The Carles envisioned the museum as “a place for young visitors’ very first visit to a museum”, preparing them to develop the habits of museum going and discovery. The first major museum in the country dedicated to picture book art, it is a champion for illustrated children’s literature, collecting and exhibiting original illustration, and encouraging guests of all ages to read and create art.

Eric is survived by his two children from his first marriage to Dorothea Carle (née Dorothea Wohlenberg), Rolf Carle and Cirsten Carle, and Rolf’s wife Teresa Toro; his sister Christa Bareis, and his sister-in-law Rita Wiseman. Eric was preceded in death by his wife of 42 years Barbara ‘Bobbie’ Carle (1938-2015). Eric was a resident of Key Largo, Florida, where he and Bobbie lived since 2004. An artist till the end, Eric continued to create art until early May 2021. Some of his latest works on paper can be seen here. Online condolences, memories, and photos may be shared with the Carle family at https://www.ericcarle.art/

Stay In Touch
With The Communications Office
Snail Mail
Office of Communications
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002