Hilary Knight's "Eloise"

NEW YORK CITY | Hilary Knight, the 90-year-old well-known and honored illustrator, will have a special exhibition: “Hilary Knight’s Stage Struck World” that begins next week on April 25th at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, 40 Lincoln Plaza (Broadway bet 63rd & 65th Streets).

This curious exhibit includes some of his original artwork for Broadway, posters, costume and set designs for performances and revues, illustrations for Vanity Fair magazine (he is a contributing editor), books, albums, as well as some of his most recent work — three-dimensional portraits in stage-like settings, preliminary studies for those, and some unpublished works.

He is known world-wide as the illustrator of the American classic Eloise. Hilary Knight’s Stage-Struck World is made possible by the generous support of Terry Allen Kramer.

“To have the opportunity to look back on your life.. especially when you are still around & still working at 90 is pretty rare,” Knight says. “Then to have a stage to play it of is very special.”

Knight cites the performing arts as the single greatest influence on his life and career and for that, all the world is indeed a stage.

“My life has been a 90-year gaze at the world around me, the total wonder of nature and the world of the theater, movies and fashion,” he says. “I tried to absorb everything, and what emerged from it is what this show reveals, especially about the help and inspiration I’ve received from so many individuals. My hope is that the viewer will look up from their cell phones and see something new to them and learn that this world we are inhabiting is very special.”

The exhibit recalls his work associations with Jo Mielziner, George Abbott, Leo Lerman, Diana Vreeland, D.D. Dixon, Richard Avedon and Kay Thompson. And then into his entry into art work for children books (over 70 including 10 that he wrote & illustrated). Later he was hired by Harry Rigby for his first Broadway poster HALF A SIXPENCE
This has been followed for decades for numerous shows including: NO, NO, NANETTE (Ruby Keeler), IRENE (Debbie Reynolds, Jane Powell), GOOD NEWS (Alice Faye), Angela Lansbury’s GYPSY and I LOVE MY WIFE, SUGAR BABIES (Ann Miller, Mickey Rooney), COLETTE (Diana Rigg), and others.

Hilary Knight's "Eloise"
Hilary Knight’s “Eloise”

Some of his work for Vanity Fair included a series of “advise” columns with Barry Humphries (Dame Edna). The exhibit Introduction wall (floor to ceiling) blow up from his book The Circus is Coming. There will also be videos with brief illustrated interviews conducted by David Leopold, the curator for this show. There will also be two walls of posters with over a hundred examples of his work.

“My creative life was completely formed by my parents, Clayton Knight and Katharine Sturges, both artist / designers working in one of the great periods of commercial art  —1920’s & 30’s each unique in their field. My first experiences in the performing arts were the traveling tent circuses near our home in Roslyn, Long Island…moving to Manhattan in 1932. My first musical theater event was Rodgers & Hart’s JUMBO”Jumbo”; followed by my parent’s selection of stage productions & film’s.


Designer Adrian’s extravagant costumes in MGM’s ”The Great Ziegfeld”, ”Elephant Boy” a Korda film that gave me my first authentic hero, SABU, 1930’s Brazilian legend Carmen Miranda in 1939’s revue, ”Streets of Paris”, Gertrude Lawrence on stage in” Lady In The Dark”.. dresses by Norman Norell, costumes by Irene Sharaff, Lena Horne’s movie ”Panama Hattie” — all these extraordinary, stylish, exotic performers and designers made indelible impressions on me and formed my own inspirations others that I worked with, or led me in a distinct direction.”

Hilary Knight’s “Stage-Struck World,” running through September 1, 2017, focuses on the artist’s work in the performing arts. Upcoming is an exhibition “Eloise At The Museum” presented at The New-York Historical Society from June 30 through October 9, 2017.

Kay Thompson by Hilary Knight
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