Born in 1931 in Strasbourg (France) / Died in 2019 in Cork (Ireland)
Had worked in Strasbourg, New York, Canada, Ireland
Tomi was born in 1931 in Strasbourg. He is the son of Alice and Theodore, artist, historian, engineer and designer of astronomical clocks.
In 1940, Alsace was annexed by Germany. Back then, Tomi was French at home, German on the way to school, Alsatian in the streets. The war years profoundly marked his life and his work.
At the age of 25, departure for the new world: 60 dollars in his pocket, New York, a stateless person among many others… Free, funny and cheeky, Tomi Ungerer seduced the press, The New York Times, Vogue, Life, Fortune…
He met Ursula Nordstrom, the editor of the children’s department of Harper & Row in 1957. His first children’s book, The Mellops go flying, was an immediate success. He published many other children’s books, including Crictor, Adelaide, The Three Brigands and Rufus. On the other hand, in the early 1960s, Tomi became actively involved in the civil rights movement against racial segregation and the Vietnam War. He did numerous radical posters.
He published satirical books such as The Secret Notebooks, and in 1966-67 he self-published The Party, a work in which he expressed his dislike for New York’s elite society, followed by Fornicon.
After a scandal related to his erotic drawings, and tired of American society, they moved to Nova Scotia (Canada) with his wife Yvonne, before settling permanently in Ireland in 1976.
His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions in numerous institutions such as the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Strasbourg, the Wilhelm Busch Museum in Hanover, the Itabashi Art Museum in Tokyo, the Stadtmuseum in Munich, the Max Ernst Museum in Brühl, the Kunsthalle Würth in Schwabisch Hall, the Drawing Center in New York, the Kunsthaus Zürich or the Folkwang Museum in Essen.
Tomi has published more than 140 books translated into 28 different languages, ranging from his famous children’s stories to autobiographical narratives, to subversive, controversial, fiercely humorous, sexy, provocative volumes.