Millions watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person and on TV every year, yet few know about the multifaceted artist-entrepreneur behind the “upside down marionettes” that float down Broadway. Join curators and authors Stephanie Haboush Plunkett and Lenore D. Miller for this lively look at Tony Sarg: Genius at Play, the first comprehensive exhibition and catalogue exploring the life, art, and adventures of Tony Sarg (1880–1942), whose prolific career sheds light on one individual’s ability to inspire a collective sense of wonder and joy. And you can join this talk happening tomorrow, Wednesday, September 20 at 5pm ET for free by registering here.

Photo from Tony Sarg: Genius at Play Courtesy of Abbeville Press

Already a successful illustrator in London, Sarg moved to New York City and gained renown in the 1920s for his touring puppet shows based on classic tales like Alice in Wonderland and Robinson Crusoe. Fusing the time-honored craft of traditional marionette shows with a playful modern sensibility, Sarg’s productions were foundational to American puppetry—there would be no Sesame Street or Avenue Q without him! As explored in the exhibition catalogue (Abbeville Press, 2023), the many facets of Sarg’s career will be discussed—from his emergence as the acknowledged “father of modern American puppetry,” to his whimsical animated films and children’s books, to theatrical pranks like the famous Nantucket Sea Serpent hoax of 1937.  

The exhibition is on view at the Normal Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA through November 5, 2023. The companion survey Tony Sarg: Genius at Play is published by Abbeville Press.

Photo from Tony Sarg: Genius at Play Courtesy of Abbeville Press

Attendees will learn about:

  • Art and artifacts from more than a dozen public and private collections—many which have never before been exhibited—that bring the full breadth of Sarg’s contributions to light. 
  • Special connections to New York City, where Sarg set up a studio in the Flatiron Building and later built marionette workshops in Greenwich Village
  • Fun trivia, like where you can still find a Tony Sarg-painted mural in midtown Manhattan
  • Sarg’s impact on American pop culture, especially his projects on the monumental scale, including maps and products for two World’s Fairs, his Nantucket Sea Monster hoax, and the wealth of commercial products that he designed and created for his Tony Sarg Shops (Nantucket and Marblehead, MA, New York City, and New Hope, PA).

This will be a fun event for all New York history lovers, and anyone with an interest in the history of popular culture and is open to all who would like to attend by clicking here to register.

Photo from Tony Sarg: Genius at Play Courtesy of Abbeville Press

About the Speakers: 

Stephanie Haboush Plunkett is the Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Norman Rockwell Museum and the organizing curator of Tony Sarg: Genius at Play. Her previous projects include Enduring Ideals: Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms; Inventing America: Rockwell and Warhol; Rockwell and Realism in an Abstract World; Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs; The Unknown Hopper: Edward Hopper as Illustrator; Ephemeral Beauty: Al Parker and the American Women’s Magazine: 1940-1960; LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel; and The Art of The New Yorker: Eighty Years in the Vanguard. She has also held positions at the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and the Heckscher Museum of Art. Stephanie leads the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, the first scholarly institute devoted to the study of illustration, and has been an Adjunct Professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Illustration Practice Graduate Program. “The Shifting Postwar Marketplace: Illustration in the United States and Canada, 1940-1970” in History of Illustration, Drawing Lessons from the Famous Artists School: Classic Techniques and Expert Tips from the Golden Age of Illustration; Norman Rockwell: Drawings, 1911 to 1973; and Tony Sarg: Genius at Play are recent publications. 

Lenore D. Miller, Curator Emerita, George Washington University Museum has been in a leadership position in the visual arts at George Washington University for more than fifty years. Active in the arts community of Washington, DC, she has served as juror and guest curator for various institutions, including the Kreeger Museum and the Arts Club of Washington. She is a freelance writer for various art publications, including ARTnews, KOAN, Camerawork, New Art Examiner, Metalwork, and Washington Print Club Quarterly. Since 2017, Miller is a Fellow of the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA, and is co-curator of Tony Sarg: Genius at Play.

Click here to register. Attendees will receive a link to join the webinar after completing the registration. Normally this would be exclusive to our Untapped New York Insiders but we are opening this talk up to all. Want to become an Insider? Click here to start your membership..