A Darker Side of Dr. Seuss


Colleen McMenamin, Staff Writer

By Colleen McMenamin

Throughout his career, Dr. Seuss proved to be a a childhood favorite of almost everyone. His famous books were upbeat and exciting, such as “Green Eggs and Ham”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, and “The Cat in the Hat”. Dr. Seuss, or Theodor Seuss Giesel, was an illustrator by day and a surrealist painter by night. These darker paintings contrast against his published illustrations. These darker images were never seen by the public eye until recent years. Over a lifetime of curating art, he developed this into an entire collection of private paintings and sculptures titled “The Midnight Paintings”. Seuss gave specific instructions not to release this until after his death. 

The paintings are much darker in color compared to his other illustrations, for he used muted colors such as brown, black, and other monotoned shades. Along with a darker color palette, these display darker emotions. Seuss stuck to the same style in some that his published work was constructed in, however he decided to highlight a darker tone. He even experimented with cubist and surrealist styles. As one goes deeper into exploring his work, the more surreal and abstract his artwork becomes, with some paintings even simply illustrating patterns or blobs of color. This collection was curated through Seuss’s own personal enjoyment of this type of artwork,  which allowed him to experiment with emotions and styles not yet explored by himself. 

These paintings and sculptures remain in their collections and are considered priceless, not for sale. They can be seen at either Dr. Seuss Archives at the Mandeville Special Collections Library, University of California ─ San Diego, the Hood Museum of Art, and select public and private collections.