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Showing posts from March, 2009

BERNIE FUCHS

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In 1958, a staff artist worked patiently in a back room at the famed Cooper Studio in New York, retouching the Pepsi Cola logo on a stack of illustrations. He came to an illustration by a new, unknown artist and stopped dead in his tracks.

Illustrator Murray Tinkelman, who also worked at Coopers, remembers receiving the call: "Hey Murray, come take a look at this." Tinkelman went over to see the new picture. "It was gorgeous" he recalls. The two decided to call in the superstars of Cooper Studios, Joe Bowler and Coby Whitmore. Bowler and Whitmore arrived together to inspect the new painting. Whitmore was "speechless." Bowler said, "I don't know who the hell did this, but the business is never going to be the same."

Bowler was right.



Young Bernie Fuchs arrived in New York and quickly set the field on fire. By the time he was 30, the Artists Guild of New York had voted him "Artist of the Year"-- an unprecedented achievement. His dynamic…
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Costume sketch from life drawing class.
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SACRED WRITINGS

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Artists have honored sacred texts by converting words into art. Often the result is not intended to be read like a conventional book, but rather experienced as a visual object.



For example, some Korans from 17th-century Turkey, Iran and North India are so elaborate and ornate they are virtually impossible to read except as designs. The finest artists, calligraphers and craftsmen embellished these books with gold and jewels to inspire reverence for the content.

When I was growing up on the south side of Chicago, a boy I knew was shot and killed on the school playground by older boys from a street gang.

Virgil White and I sang in the choir together. One night, he foolishly tried to take a short cut through the playground alone. The gang members shot him and left him bleeding to death on the cold concrete. Virgil managed to scrawl the names of his killers in his school notebook: "Greg Vincent and Chap Dog killed me." Then he was gone forever, like a wisp of smoke.



They found Virgil…

HUBERT GRAVELOT

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[Note: instead of writing a blog post this week, I have been playing hooky corresponding with peacay whose great blog BibliOdyssey is a marvelous source of images. Peacay dug up some rare drawings by Gravelot which he generously shared with me, and to avoid work we agreed to post our resulting exchange on our respective blogs. Peacay contributed the intelligent and classy portions. I contributed the mouthy opinions.]

**This cross-posted collaboration features an attitudinal stimulus package by David Apatoff of Illustration Art with peacay of BibliOdyssey on image wrangling and cattle prod detail.**

Hubert Fran├žois (Burguignon) Gravelot 1669-1773 trained in Paris as an illustrator-engraver under Fran├žois Boucher and came to London in about 1732. He was friends with William Hogarth and they both taught at the St Martin's Lane Academy, something of a precursor to the Royal Academy. Thomas Gainsborough was known to have studied under Gravelot.

From France, Gravelot brought with him the o…
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Charcoal pencil on Strathmore charcoal paper.
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Redwood Shores Goose. Watercolor.
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SPANKING CATS

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Cosmic disturbances sometimes engulf our planet in violent magnetic storms, yet you can sit there calmly sipping your jasmine tea and munching cucumber sandwiches, oblivious to the vast drama going on around you because our senses can't detect magnetic storms. You'd have to look at a compass and see the needle going haywire to figure out that something was taking place.

Art works the same way; we remain unaware of layers of meaning when we lack the experience to understand them. As Goethe said, "We only see what we know."

Back when artists had less freedom to be explicit (and audiences were more sophisticated and patient) artists conveyed messages that went undetected by innocent viewers, but were understood by those viewers who had enough experience to recognize what was going on.

Here, some anonymous illustrator had great fun with an orange crate label:


Here, we see another suggestive fruit offering:



Similarly, you could probably fill an entire book with the facial exp…