Curlee, Lynn 1947–
Curlee, Lynn 1947–
Home and office—P.O. Box 699, Jamesport, NY 11947.
Commercial and fine artist, illustrator, and author. Freelance writer 1991—. Prime Gallery, Southold, NY, owner, 1991—. Exhibitions: Work included in numerous galleries, including Christopher Gallery, New York, NY; Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY; Gallery Henoch, New York, NY; Dunaway-O'Neill Gallery, Santa Monica, CA; Rizzoli Gallery, New York, NY; Elaine Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY; Giraffics Gallery, East Hampton, NY; and Prime Gallery, Southold, NY; as well as in group shows for Society of Illustrators, New York, NY.
Children's Literature Choice designation, 1996, and Best Children's Book of the Year designation, Bank Street College of Education, both 1999, both for Into the Ice; Parents Choice Award, Orbis Pictus Award, and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, all 1999, all for Rushmore; Notable Book for Children designation, American Library Association (ALA), Loss Angeles Times Best Children's Book citation, and Capitol Choices designation, all 2001, all for Liberty; Robert F. Siebert Award Honor Book designation, and Capitol Choices designation, both 2001, and ALA Notable Book for Children designation, 2002, all for Brooklyn Bridge; Best Children's Book of the Year designation, Bank Street College of Education, 2004, for Parthenon; Parent's Choice Silver Award, 2005, for Ballpark; Parent's Choice Silver Honor designation, 2007, for Skyscraper.
SELF-ILLUSTRATED; FOR CHILDREN
Ships of the Air, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1996.
Into the Ice: The Story of Arctic Explorations, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA, 1998.
Rushmore, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.
Liberty, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2000.
Brooklyn Bridge, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2001.
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2002.
Capital, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2003.
Parthenon, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2004.
Ballpark: The Story of America's Baseball Fields, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2005.
Mythological Creatures: A Classical Bestiary, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2006.
Skyscraper, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2007.
Railroad, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2010.
(Illustrator) Dennis Haseley, Horses with Wings, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.
A fine artist and gallery owner, Lynn Curlee is best known for creating award-winning self-illustrated picture books that focus on the famous landmarks that characterize the landscape. Focusing primarily on North America, Curlee has produced Rushmore, Capital, Skyscraper, Brooklyn Bridge, and Liberty. He also mines world history to produce Seven Wonders of the World, Parthenon, and Mythological Creatures: A Classical Bestiary. Praising the last-named book in School Library Journal, Farida S. Dowler called Curlee's prose "descriptive and lyrical" as it brings to life the cast of Greek myth, while his formal paintings in Mythological Creatures "depict these characters with dramatic flair." According to a Kirkus Reviews writer, the author's text is enriched by his "distinctive, neoclassical style of illustration," making Mythological Creatures "an engrossing visual experience."
Although Curlee's focus rests primarily upon architecture and monumental structures, his first two books for children celebrate the wonders of early human flight. In illustrating Horses with Wings, Dennis Haseley's account of a balloon escape from Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, he contributed acrylic paintings that were hailed by Booklist contributor Kay Weisman as "stunning." As author and illustrator of Ships of the Air, Curlee shares a brief history of balloon and dirigible crafts. A Kirkus Reviews critic found that the Ships of the Air "delights as well as … informs."
Into the Ice: The Story of Arctic Exploration, which Booklist critic Carolyn Phelan dubbed "a readable and quite beautiful treatment of Arctic exploration," Curlee tells the story of both the explorers who have been compelled to travel to the frozen lands of the far North and of the people who called that same land home. "Curlee's stark acrylic paintings seem particularly sympathetic to his subject matter," remarked Bloom. Relying on a restricted palette of blues, grays, and white, the artist "creates the forbidding and formidable landscape of the North," the critic added.
Rushmore, a tribute to the making of this famous tribute to U.S. presidents in South Dakota, marked Curlee's shift to writing about significant American architectural sites. John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum, a sculptor of monumental ego and ambition, undertook the project in the 1920s, planning to transform the Black Hills of South Dakota into a tourist attraction and homage to American presidents Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt. During the nearly two decades of production, workers on the site had to climb the equivalent of a forty-story building in order to get to work each day, and Curlee's gray and blue acrylic paintings ably provide readers with a sense of the project's scale, reviewers noted. The author/illustrator "conveys the sensitivity in the faces of the giant chiseled sculpture while simultaneously demonstrating a sense of scale," remarked a contributor to Publishers Weekly. The text of Rushmore covers the engineering as well as the artistic feat involved in creating the monument, and also explains the controversies that raged over who ought to be depicted. In Booklist Stephanie Zvirin maintained that Curlee's paintings of Rushmore "make the monument seem cold and remote, rather than a warm, forceful testament to vision, hard work, and national pride." On the other hand, Mary M. Burns, writing in Horn Book, found Curlee's renderings of the monument to be more than realistic, describing them as "an exultant view into the nature of art and … patriotism."
Like Rushmore, Liberty showcases a famous U.S. monument, explanating the mechanics of bringing the original vision to reality. The Statue of Liberty, the brainchild of French intellectuals and artists, was brought to fruition with the timely aid of American newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer. Curlee includes anecdotes of its creation along with what School Library Journal contributor Alicia Eames described as "richly hued, stylized acrylic paintings, which are both compellingly dramatic and strikingly static." As in Rushmore, an unabashed patriotism infuses the artist's renderings of his subject. "Stunning, stylized portraits of the lady [Liberty] heighten Curlee's lucid, appreciative text," remarked a contributor to Horn Book, while a contributor to Publishers Weekly dubbed Liberty "a reverent, absorbing homage to the world-renowned symbol of American freedom."
Upon its completion in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge became the longest bridge in the world. In Brooklyn Bridge, Curlee details the engineering feats that went into the bridge's construction, and wraps into his saga the human drama of the Roebling family: John A., who conceived the vast structure but died just as its construction was begun; John's son Washington, who took over the project until ill health forced him into seclusion; and Washington's wife, Emily, who oversaw the day-to-day operation of construction after her husband fell ill. As in Curlee's earlier tributes to the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore, Brooklyn Bridge features stunning illustrations that work on the emotions of the viewer. "The sweeping cityscape oil paintings of the bridge during sunset fireworks and glowing in the moonlight illustrate its majesty and pageantry," a contributor to Publishers Weekly attested.
The Brooklyn Bridge was once considered by some to be the eighth wonder of the world, and this fact inspired Curlee's Seven Wonders of the World. The book provides a brief look at what the seven wonders of the ancient world, as deemed by the Greek poet Antipater of Sidon, would probably look like—"probably" because all but the Great Pyramid at Giza have long since disappeared. "The expanse of his ambitious subject does not allow the author to delve into the kinds of details allowed by his single-subject volumes, but he certainly whets readers' appetites," concluded a contributor to Publishers Weekly in reviewing the book. Drawing upon contemporary accounts and the revelations of modern archeology, in Seven Wonders of the World the author/illustrator creates a vision of what each might have looked like in its day, as well as an account of its destruction. Although Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper cited some flaws in the historical account, "there's no denying that this book is both fascinating and strongly executed," she concluded.
Curlee turns to sports in Ballpark: The Story of America's Baseball Fields, which Booklist contributor Bill Ott dubbed "an engaging history of baseball parks." Beginning with the history of the sport, Curlee focuses primarily on the evolution of U.S. baseball parks, from playing fields to freestanding, sometimes enclosed stadiums. The author/artist's "striking, acrylic-on-canvas illustrations … are the superstars here," noted Ott. Marilyn Taniguchi described Ballpark as a "succinct and thoughtful overview" in which a retro effect is aided by Curlee's "stylized, full-page acrylic paintings." Other more prosaic structures are captured by Curlee in the pages of Skyscraper and Railroad, both which pair his detailed art with a descriptive text. In a School Library Journal review of Skyscraper, Steven Engelfried explained that Curlee includes section views as well as full-size renderings of the nation's multi-story structures, and that his "dramatic paintings and lucid prose highlight this excellent history."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, November 15, 1993, Kay Weisman, review of Horses with Wings, p. 63; April, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of Into the Ice: The Story of Arctic Explora-tions, p. 1316; March 1, 1999, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Rushmore, p. 1204; April 15, 2001, Randy Meyer, review of Brooklyn Bridge, p. 1548; December 1, 2001, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Brooklyn Bridge, p. 658; January 1, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, p. 850; January 1, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Capital, p. 880; March 15, 2005, Bill Ott, review of Ballpark: The Story of America's Baseball Fields, p. 1288; January 1, 2007, Gillian Engberg, review of Skyscraper, p. 92; April 1, 2008, Janie Del Negro, review of Mythological Creatures: A Classical Bestiary, p. 43.
Horn Book, May-June, 1998, Susan P. Bloom, review of Into the Ice, p. 357; March, 1999, Mary M. Burns, review of Rushmore, p. 221; May, 2000, review of Liberty, p. 330; July, 2001, review of Brooklyn Bridge, p. 470; March-April, 2005, Betty Carter, review of Ballpark, p. 212; March-April, 2008, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Mythological Creatures, p. 226.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 1996, review of Ships of the Air, p. 821; January 1, 2002, review of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, p. 43; December 1, 2002, review of Capital, p. 1766; January 1, 2008, review of Mythological Creatures.
New York Times, December 7, 1998, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of Into the Ice.
New York Times Book Review, May 20, 2001, Sam Swope, review of Brooklyn Bridge, p. 30.
Publishers Weekly, February 15, 1999, review of Rushmore, p. 107; May 29, 2000, review of Liberty, p. 83; May 14, 2001, review of Brooklyn Bridge, p. 82; December 24, 2001, review of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, p. 64; November 25, 2002, review of Capital, p. 65.
School Library Journal, May, 1998, Patricia Manning, review of Into the Ice, p. 152; March, 1999, Rosie Peasley, review of Rushmore, p. 191; May, 2000, Alicia Eames, review of Liberty, p. 180; May, 2001, Susan Lissim, review of Brooklyn Bridge, p. 162; March, 2002, Kathleen Baxter, review of Brooklyn Bridge, p. 49; September, 2002, Mary Ann Carcish, review of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, p. 242; March, 2005, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of Ballpark, p. 191; March, 2007, Steven Engelfried, review of Skyscraper, p. 226; May, 2008, Farida S. Dowler, review of Mythological Creatures, p. 113.
Lynn Curlee Home Page,http://www.curleeart.com (July 15, 2008).