JOE DE MERS' TONSORIAL PARLOR AND ABSTRACT ART GALLERY

Joe De Mers (1910-1984) illustrated women's magazines in the 1940s and 1950s, a market characterized by simplified pictures of pretty girls against plain backgrounds.





Later generations would look down on what Robert Weaver ridiculed as "candy box" illustration. Jim Silke accurately noted, "that style was derisively called the 'big head school of illustration,' a name derived from the fact that every picture was dominated by a huge close up of a beautiful woman...." Illustrator Al Parker explained the popularity of such illustrations with tasteless audiences:
Readers demand pretty people in pretty settings forming a pretty picture. The larger your audience, the more limited its taste. It prefers subject matter to design and girls to men. It wants no message other than girls are cute and men like cute girls.
At the same time De Mers was catering to popular taste, genius artists such as De Kooning, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell and Diebenkorn were boldly experimenting with abstract paintings. Compare the freedom, vigor and originality of De Kooning's brilliant masterpiece:



...with these details from the bourgeois pablum being served up by De Mers:



Errrr.....







Umm....










See the difference?

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