CHASE IN THE FOREST
In Chase in the Forest, Dr. Seuss presents us with a dense forest full of imagination and the boundless energy of his life’s pursuits. The trees, while a strong indication of will and desire, still bend and move to accommodate new thoughts and ideas, much like the twisting and layering of imagination itself. The colors are quintessential Seuss, playful and imaginative, yet painted with a surreal sensibility and the sophistication of an artist chasing his creative peak.
Upon closer examination, we find two companions in a clearing, chasing each other through this forest of imagination. It is a hidden look, like peering into one’s dream and watching the thrill of the pursuit: the pursuit of romance, the pursuit of love, the pursuit of success and of family. Yet, among the awe-inspiring beauty of Dr. Seuss’s lush vegetation, we are left wondering who is chasing whom? In relationships, most of us would agree that we take turns on either side of that equation, chasing and being chased as our relationships deepen and change over time. A broader view of this question is less clear. A dreamer must chase their dreams at all cost, but are those very dreams chasing them at the same time?
In many ways, Dr. Seuss’s life was built on chasing dreams, on the pursuit of imagination and the unending quest to bring us along for the ride. This foundation was built at an early age when, as a child, he would draw and imagine that zoo animals could walk and talk just like us. Or later, when he felt confined by the rigid academics at Oxford University and fled to Paris to explore Montparnasse together with the writers, poets, and painters of the time, brushing shoulders with the Surrealist movement just as those great artists were first showing their work. And finally, in a career spanning 70 years, his imagination would permeate countless advertisements, editorial cartoons, children’s books, and a collection of paintings that have rarely, if ever, been seen by the general public.
IMAGINE WHAT DREAMERS CAN DO
Perhaps the most engaging aspects of Dr. Seuss’s life were both his boundless imagination and his unending desire to chase his dreams. The result of these pursuits include the following:
- Dr. Seuss is one of America’s most popular and best-known authors.
- His books have garnered multi-generational status, with three generations of families now reading Dr. Seuss to their children
- He has sold over 650 million copies of his books worldwide.
- He received the Pulitzer Prize and 8 Honorary Doctorates, won two Oscars, an Emmy, and a Peabody.
- LIFE Books named Dr. Seuss one of the “100 People Who Changed the World,” joining an esteemed list including Picasso, Einstein, Edison, Shakespeare, and Da Vinci.
In 1966, the organizers of the annual Charity Ball benefiting the San Diego Society for Handicapped Children, chose to honor Dr. Seuss for his contributions to the San Diego community. His response was creating a 120-page event catalog loaded with his art, supervising the Ball’s Seussian décor, and topping off his efforts by offering one his most intricate paintings, Chase in the Forest, to that night’s auction.
The painting was sold and fell into obscurity for over 50 years. It is only now that the art world and collecting public have the opportunity to see this fascinating image again.
There are several categories of Dr. Seuss’s work that emerged over his 70-year career. While much of it was based in surrealism, he was an avid consumer of all 20th century culture and art. Echoes of the most impactful movements of that time can be felt in the collection of Dr. Seuss’s midnight paintings highlighted below: