“Time can play all sorts of tricks on you. In the blink of an eye, babies appear in carriages, coffins disappear into the ground, wars are won and lost, and children transform, like butterflies, into adults.” — Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret
It’s all in the timing, they say. And, like a good stage performer stepping into the light, the Dixon Gallery & Gardens opened “From Houdini to Hugo: The Art of Brian Selznick” at exactly the right time to catch the reflected glow of Hugo, Martin Scorsese’s lush 3-D film adaptation of Selznick’s transformative novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The exhibit closes on January 8th, and fans of the film and Selznick’s other work will want to catch it before time plays another of its tricks. Transformation is Selznick’s thing. His most vivid illustrations are of magic shows and mechanical marvels. Night and day literally collide. The twinkle in an old man’s eyes transforms him into a mischievous child. Light exploding from stars, rainbows, or movie cameras routs the darkness like an advancing army. With Hugo Cabret, Selznick transformed a novel into a picture book, and he turned picture books into something close to cinema.
From “Houdini to Hugo” was organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature in Abilene, Texas, and presents more than 100 of the Caldecott-winning illustrator’s pencil illustrations, pen and ink drawings, and paintings, including pieces created for Frindle, The Houdini Box, and Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride.