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A blog about about painting, design and other aspects of aesthetics along with a dash of non-art topics. The point-of-view is that modernism in art is an idea that has, after a century or more, been thoroughly tested and found wanting. Not to say that it should be abolished -- just put in its proper, diminished place.

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    Hubert Rogers (1898-1982) was a Canadian illustrator/painter perhaps best known today for cover paintings for Astounding Science Fiction, generally considered the cream of the pulp Sci-Fi crop, thanks to its (1937-1971) editor John W. Campbell.

    Regarding Rogers, this source mentions:

    "In 1925 he moved to New York City to study with Dean Cornwell at the Art Students League."

    "In 1931 the financial hardship of the Great Depression lead him to abandon city life. He drove an Indian motorcycle to Taos, New Mexico, where he worked within a community of artists that were as passionate about modern landscape painting as the Canadian 'Group of Seven.'"

    But he returned to New York in 1936 after he got an increasing number of assignments. Rogers moved back to Canada in 1942 where he did illustrations to help the war effort. He moved to Vermont in 1947.

    More on Rogers is here, and a source presenting letters to Rogers from leading science-fiction writers Robert Heinlein and L. Sprague de Camp is here.

    Rogers was a competent illustrator who has to drop into working for "pulp" (cheap, low-quality paper) magazines to help get through the Great Depression. This is a slightly different career path than that for some slightly younger illustrators who had to start their career in pulps and then tried to claw their way to more respectable and better paying clients.

    As can be seen below, Rogers' covers for Astounding were decently done, a cut well above the common 1940-vintage bug-eyed-monster-clutching-scantily-clad-blonde genre found on covers of some other sci-fi mags.


    Astounding Science Fiction cover - October 1939
    One of Rogers' best-known Astounding covers.

    Astounding Science Fiction cover - February 1940
    The tank is a futuristic version of the Great War British Mark IV tank.

    Astounding Science Fiction cover - August 1940
    Streamlined space ship, though its tiny wings don't seem very functional.

    Astounding Science Fiction cover - August 1941

    Astounding Science Fiction cover - May 1947
    Some sources consider this to be Rogers' best Astounding cover.

    Preliminary sketch, Astounding Science Fiction cover - May 1947

    Canadian World War 2 poster

    Canadian World War 2 poster "Men of Valor" - final

    Canadian World War 2 poster "Men of Valor" - preliminary

    Canadian World War 2 poster "Men of Valor" - image for printer

    The 1943 Quebec Conference - image copyright Canadian War Museum
    Rogers was fully capable of doing paintings as well as illustrations.

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    József Rippl-Rónai (1861-1927) or Rippl-Rónai József in Hungarian name-order, was an early proponent of modernism, according to this Wikipedia entry.

    He began his career as a pharmacologist, but took up art training in Munich and Paris during his mid-20s. He then returned to Hungary and plied his new trade there.

    Rippl-Rónai was a modernist of a tepid variety, not straying far into the realms of distorted proportions and colors, let alone Cubism or abstraction. Interestingly, his portraits of women tended to be in pastel, whereas many of this other works were oil on cardboard or other supports.

    Many of his portrayals were of Zorka Bányai, but I have no details regarding her.


    Manor-house at Körtvélyes - c. 1907

    Geszti kastély - 1912

    Lajos & Odon - 1918

    Lady with Black Veil - 1896

    Woman with Red Hair - 1891

    Young Woman - 1916

    Zdenka Ticharich - 1921

    Zorka - 1918

    Zorka ? - 1924

    Portrait - 1920s

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    Winston Churchill (1874-1965) accomplished a thing or two during his long life. Among those things were some 500 or so paintings. This was a serious hobby that served to help him ride through bouts of depression as well as to relieve stresses from his various day jobs.

    Some background can be found here and here.

    Churchill never went to art school. Beginning his painting career at age 40, he lacked the spare time to go through academic or any other art school hoops. But he did get a bit of coaching by the likes of Sir John Lavery, Walter Sickert and Sir William Nicholson.

    He submitted paintings to exhibitions on a few occasions, using a pseudonym, and had some of his work accepted. These days some of his paintings have been auctioned at more than half a million pounds.

    Churchill mostly painted outdoors scenes. He did a few interiors, but I am unaware of still lifes or portraits, so these latter are either few or non-existent. He clearly put a lot of work into a number of his paintings, as noted in the final link above. Apparently his work was respected by a number of contemporary artists. As for me, I find too much of the understandably amateurish in Churchill's paintings. For instance, he includes too much sky in a number of his compositions and his depiction of architecture is too superficial for my taste. Even so, I appreciate that Churchill was a man of such well-rounded accomplishment.

    The paintings below are probably copyrighted, and I include the images to so that readers might better understand what is under discussion here.


    Churchill at his easel

    A Study of Boats - 1933

    Scene on the River Meuse

    A View from Chartwell - 1938
    Chartwell was Churchill's country home in Kent.

    A corner of the drawing room, Chartwell - c. 1938

    The Tower of Katubia Mosque - 1943
    Painted in conjunction with his trip to Morocco for the Casablanca Conference. The scene here is in Marrakesh.

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  • 04/04/16--01:00: Frederick Varley and Norma
  • Frederick (Fred) Horsman Varley (1881-1969) was a member of Canada's famed Group of Seven artists. A wikipedia entry about him is here, and I wrote a general post about him here.

    More recently I wrote about him and his most famous portrait subject, Vera Weatherbie, here. The present post touches on another important subject that I briefly treated in my original Varley post. Her first name is Norma. Her last name seems to be either Park or Parks -- I've seen both versions in various tiny snippets of information on the Internet, but nothing conclusive.

    The Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts (now the Emily Carr University of Art and Design) was established in 1925 and not long after that Varley moved to Vancouver, British Columbia to teach there. Around 1929 his students included Weatherbie and Norma.

    Below are three or four of his versions of Norma. If anyone could supply more information regarding Norma, I would greatly appreciate it if that could be included in a comment to this post.


    I am not sure that this painting is of Norma. The subject has a bobbed hairdo like those seen on known portraits of Norma, but such hairdos were common during the 1920s.

    This is either a study for a painting of Norma or an abandoned attempt. It is on the reverse side of the painting below.

    Norma as seen in an unusual composition with her at the upper-left corner of the painting and looking out beyond the frame.

    I wish I could have found a larger version of this portrait of Norma. The neck appears exaggerated (compare to the previous painting), and I quibble with the lighting down towards the tip of her nose. Nevertheless, a striking portrait of a striking young woman.

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    Boris Chaliapin (1904–1979) was a son of famed Russian opera singer Fyodor Chaliapin. But being a post-revolution emigré, he had to forge his own career and did it very well. Over 1942-1970 he painted 414 covers for Time, America's leading weekly news magazine in those days.

    Chaliapin seems to have been a fast worker -- hard to believe, given the amount of detail he normally placed on portraits and backgrounds. But over his 28-year grind with Time, he produced at the rate of slightly more than one cover illustration per month. And some were done on short notice such as the one of Queen Elizabeth, below, that appeared shortly after the death of her father, King George VI.

    For a reason I find hard to understand, there is little in the way of biographical information on the Internet regarding Chaliapin. So allow me to offer as a link this post by David Apatoff who, like me, appreciates Chaliapin's wok.


    Olga Spessivtseva - 1932

    Olga Spessivtseva - 1934
    Two portraits of the Russian ballet dancer who was living in Paris in the early 1930s, as apparently was Chaliapin. They are included to show what he was capable of in his pre-Time days.

    Queen Elizabeth - Time, 18 February 1952

    John Wayne - Time, 3 March 1952
    Magazine editors chose the subjects he painted. The cover subject was the basis for a long "cover story" inside that issue.

    Rosalind Russell - Time, 30 March 1953
    She was a Broadway and Hollywood star.

    Walt Disney - Time, 27 December 1954
    Disneyland was to open the following summer.

    Marilyn Monroe - 14 May 1956
    Still famous.

    Le Corbusier - Time, 5 May 1961
    The controversial modernist architect.

    Charles de Gaulle - Time, 8 February 1963
    France, personified.

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    Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980), along with his contemporary Egon Schiele (1890-1918), represents an aspect of the Vienna Secession form of expressionism that I dislike. More about Kokoschka's career is here.

    It seems that Kokoschka's art training was unconventional for its time, lacking in instruction regarding oil painting. Which might be a small part of the reason his paintings are such messes.

    This post is in my "In the Beginning" or "Artists' early work" series, and shown below are some Kokoschka paintings made before he was 30. By that point they are not very different from paintings he made later in life.


    Portrait of Lotte Franzos - 1909

    Martha Hirsch - 1909

    Adolf Loos - 1909
    Loos was an early modernist architect who famously criticized ornamentation.

    Crucifixion (Golgotha) - 1912

    Carl Moll - 1913
    A founder of the Vienna Secession and step-father of Alma Mahler.

    Alma Mahler and Kokoschka - 1912-13
    Information on her and her parade of men can be found here.

    Bride of the Wind / Tempest - 1913-14
    Painted after the end of Kokoschka's affair with Alma who was seven years older.  The Wikipedia account above states that he never really got over the relationship, though he later married.

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  • 04/14/16--01:00: Glen Orbik's Drawings
  • I was shocked to learn that Glen Orbik (1963-2015) died. He didn't die as young as Toulouse-Lautrec and others who never saw their 40th birthdays. But getting snuffed out by cancer at 51 or 52 makes for a relatively short lifespan nowadays. I enjoyed viewing most of his illustration work and regret that no further "noir" paperback book covers will be forthcoming.

    There is surprisingly little in the way of biographical regarding Orbik. A brief Wikipedia entry is here, and here is a snippet on his Web site.

    Orbik was a student of illustrator Fred Fixler and eventually took over Fixler's teaching duties while pursuing commercial work. He cites as influences "Robert McGinnis, Gil Elvgren, Dean Cornwell, Mead Schaeffer, Andrew Loomis, John Buscema... and a healthy dose of Norman Rockwell." That is a fine set of inspirations.

    I will deal with Orbik's painted work in another post. For now, I'd like to show some of this drawings, many of which were "timed" (by the clock). These usually combine sensitive lines with broad, bold strokes of graphite that might be described as "painterly."


    This might be a study for a book cover illustration.

    A very quick timed drawing.

    This and some of the other images demonstrate how Orbik would set up his drawing. Here and elsewhere he had little time to refine details (note the treatment of hands and legs).

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    McClelland Barclay (1891-1943) had a highly successful career in illustration until the ship he was on was sunk by the Japanese in the South Pacific during World War 2. Biographical information is here, and one of my previous references to him is here.

    The theme of the present post originated in a fragment of an illustration for a Buick advertisement I noticed in a book. I don't know whether or not the image was cropped (I've failed to locate the original ad on the Internet), but what I have bears no signature.

    The man and women pictured  in the car have gentle little smiles, an expression that strikes me as being surprisingly rare in advertising. So who painted that illustration? My guess is that it was Barclay. As evidence, I present below several known Barclay illustrations showing people with similar expressions. Furthermore, it is known that Barclay occasionally illustrated Buick advertisements. Let me know whether or not my guess is correct.


    Illustration for Buick advertisement - 1930
    This is the unsigned (or cropped out) image and those gentle smiles.

    College Humor cover - February 1926

    Fond Departure - c.1922

    Fisher Body advertisement - 1929

    Fisher Body advertisement - 1928

    Jantzen advertisement - 1926

    Country Gentleman cover - February 1928

    Country Gentlemen cover - April 1926

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  • 04/21/16--01:00: Towards the End: Grant Wood
  • Grant Wood (1891-1942) was what was called a "Regionalist" or "American Scene" painter, his best-known work being the truly iconic "American Gothic." His Wikipedia entry is here.

    I wrote an "In the Beginning" post about Wood here, and included images of paintings from mid-career along with one from the year before his death from pancreatic cancer.

    The present post features paintings dated 1939, 1940 and 1941, when he was 48-50, prime ages for many artists. So, unlike some Towards the End subjects, there is not much difference from his most famous works made when he was in his early-mid 40s. The main difference is that some tend to be a little bit less Moderne, simplified, geometrically-solid than the early 1930s paintings.


    Haying - 1939

    New Road - 1939

    Parson Weems' Fable - 1939

    January - 1940

    Sentimental Ballad - 1940

    Spring in the Country - 1941

    Spring in Town - 1941

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    Will Eisner (1917-2005), businessman and philosopher-practitioner of cartooning, was an important innovator in that corner of the illustration world. His Wikipedia entry is here. I mentioned him here in conjunction with my visit to the comic strip museum in Brussels.

    My guilty pleasure having to do with Eisner is ogling the beautiful girls he included in his works. Most are found in his famous Spirit comic book insert for newspapers. Some are shown below, as is a character he created for a U.S. Army publication dealing with equipment maintenance that I used to read in my army days.


    Book cover featuring a Spirit femme fatale.

    Eisner was especially good with eyes.

    Apparently the head required some tweaking here.

    The Spirit and a babe are stranded on a desert island so small there is no room for the obligatory palm tree.

    P'Gell, featured in a number of Spirit episodes.

    Here she is again.

    A one-off by Eisner for a friend.

    PS The Preventive Maintenance Monthly is covered by Wikipedia here. Above is a recurring character, Miss Connie Rodd. Without her, PS readership would have been drastically fewer.

    Let me explain her name to non- English speakers and others not familiar with piston-driven motors. It refers to connecting rods that link pistons to crank shafts. Her first name, Connie, is a diminutive of Constance, and the extra "d" on the last name creates an actual last name found here and there.

    In the first image of Connie, she is all dressed up, something unusual. Normally Eisner had her dressed in army fatigue clothing as seen here. Note how skillfully Eisner depicts her gestures in the bottom image.

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  • 04/28/16--01:00: More and Better Karl Godwin
  • Karl Godwin (1893-1962) was an illustrator who never attained the first rank, yet did some interesting work in color in the late 1920s and early 1930s. I posted some images of his work here and here, and noted that about all the biographical information about him I could find was here.

    Since then, I've made new scans of details of advertisements for Hudson cars and located images of one complete ad along with two others in the series. They are shown below along with other Godwin illustrations, some of which were in the posts noted above.  Click on them to enlarge.


    From Hudson advertisement

    Entire ad spread - Literary Digest - 15 June 1929

    From Hudson advertisement - 1929
    I haven't yet found the actual ad this was part of.

    Hudson advertisement - Literary Digest - 23 March 1929
    Illustration signed by Godwin.

    Hudson advertisement - Literary Digest - 16 January 1929
    Unsigned, but could have been by Godwin.

    Couple with wagon wheel
    Magazine cover or story illustration. I don't have a date for this.

    Ethyl advertisement - 1932

    American Magazine story illustration - June 1933

    The Augsburg Sailors - story illustration - 1940

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  • 05/02/16--01:00: In the Beginning: James Bama
  • James Bama (b. 1926), like all young illustrators, had to begin somewhere. In his case, this often meant doing illustrations for men's adventure magazines in the 1950s where the subject matter was usually war, other dangers, or personal conflict. Naturally this called for plenty of gorgeous, scantily clad women, eeeevil Nazis, flying bullets and other neat stuff.

    As this Wikipedia biography notes, Bama graduated to illustrating covers for paperback books, including more than 60 for the Doc Savage series, perhaps the commercial work he is best known for.

    But during the 1970s he had left New York City for a small town near Cody, Wyoming and successfully transitioned to painting Western scenes.

    Bama always painted in a realistic style, though his style varied from hard-edge to slightly softened, depending on his needs.

    Below are some examples of illustrations from the years he was getting established. Most are a far cry from what he produced later.


    The painting for his first Doc Savage cover, I believe.

    Joe DiMaggio, for the Baseball Hall of Fame: 1955.

    A 1957 illustration.

    Above are spreads from men's magazines with Bama illustrations.

    Another men's magazine illustration.

    And yet another.

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    Ernest Board (1877-1934) spent much of his career in Bristol, his best-known works dealing with historical aspects of the city. Around 1912 he was commissioned by Henry S. Wellcome to paint a series dealing with important exploits of science.

    Biographical information regarding Board is skimpy on the Internet. This source states:

    "Painter of historical subjects and portraits; mural decorator. Born at Worcester and was educated in Bristol. Studied art at the Royal College of Art, at the Royal Academy Schools, and later in the studio of Edwin Austin Abbey. Exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1902. L[i]ved in London and later at Albury in Surrey. Died on 26th October 1934 aged 57.

    "Board was a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (R.O.I.) and the Royal West of England Academy (R.W.A.)."

    An artist club, the Bristol Savages, has this to say:

    "Born in Worcester in 1877 but moved to Bristol at an early age. Educated at the Merchant Venturers` Technical College, then at the Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. Later he joined the studio of A. E. Abbey [sic?] In 1902 he exhibited at the Royal Academy. He joined the Tribe in 1907 and was President in 1918. The most famous of his paintings “The Departure of Sebastian Cabot from Bristol” hangs in the Bristol Art Gallery alongside which hangs another fine painting of great personalities in Bristol`s history presented as a group meeting. Many other of his works are also in Bristol Art Gallery. He was commissioned to carry out mural decoration in the Houses of Parliament and in the Council Chamber of Bristol Corporation. He was also an excellent artist in stained glass. Several of his portraits hang in the Wigwam. He was with the Tribe until 1932. At that time he was far from busy and depressed and he decided to leave Bristol and try his luck in London. The hoped for luck in London however did not materialise and he moved to Farley Green in Surrey where he designed and painted an altarpiece. He died in 1934 aged 57."

    Some of Board's large historical paintings from the early 1900s are mural-like with a whiff of Pre-Raphaelite sensibility, an appealing combination. His Wellcome paintings are more conventional.


    The Departure of John and Sebastian Cabot on their First Voyage of Discovery, 1497 - 1906
    This painting has intrigued me ever since I saw a snippet of it as a book cover illustration.

    Allegorical Picture of Bristol - 1917

    King Edward IV and His Queen, Elizabeth Woodville at Reading Abbey, 1464 - 1923

    Edward IV being Entertained by William Canynges at His House in Redcliff Street, 1461 - 1918
    Biographical information on Canynges is here.

    The Burial of William Canynges at Redcliffe Church, 1474 - c. 1915

    Robert, Earl of Gloucester, Building the Great Keep of Bristol Castle, 1116

    Latimer Preaching before Edward VI at Paul's Cross, 1521 - 1910

    The Unloading of Two Captured Spanish Treasure Ships at Bristol in September, 1745 - 1927

    William Harvey Demonstrating His Theory of Circulation of Blood before Charles I - after 1912

    Study of a girl in a boat
    I include this to show that not all Board's paintings were tightly brushed.

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    I couldn't resist writing the title of this post even though it's a gross exaggeration.

    James Avati (1912-2005) actually did go to Princeton, majoring in Architecture. On the other hand, he wasn't a member of Cannon or any of the other eating clubs, so he was hardly the archetypical Princeton Man of his times.

    As for "trash," he made his career painting cover illustrations for paperback books, many of which dealt with gritty subjects.

    Avati was largely self-taught, though he learned perspective and something about architectural rendering at Princeton and attended a two-month Army sponsored art class in France after the war in Europe ended.

    During the early years of his paperback covers career, his technique was somewhat labored. Later on, his brushwork became more economical. But the important thing was his staging and psychological insight, and this resulted in his covers driving strong sales for the various publishers he worked for. Making a decent living in commercial art apparently more than compensated for his one-time plan to be a Fine Artist.


    Tobacco Road cover art

    Goodbye to Berlin cover art

    Love and Money cover art

    Argosy Magazine story illustration

    Louisville Saturday cover art

    Rage of the Soul cover art

    Beyond the Forest cover art

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    Roberto Matta (1911-2002) was a surrealist and abstractionist painter from Chile who had a long, successful career, dying age 91. His Wikipedia entry is here.

    Around the time he was 80 he painted in a style that reminds me of that of Mark Tobey (1890-1976), who I wrote about here. Matta lived in the USA for most of the 1940s, so it's hard to believe that he was unaware of Tobey's emerging "white writing" style. But it's possible that, 45 years later, he might have forgotten what he had once known.

    For what it might be worth, below are some examples of Tobey's work along with some late Matta's that strike be as being similar in style and spirit.


    Tobey ...

    People - 1945

    The New Day - c.1945

    Lovers of Light - 1961

    Matta ...

    L'Ultima Cena - 1985

    Cosmos Mental - 1991

    The Fall (Autoritratto d'ognuno) - 1991

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    Maxwell Coburn (Coby) Whitmore (1913-1988) is considered by many -- including me -- as one of the great illustrators of the period 1950-1965. Biographical links are here and here. I briefly mentioned him here.

    Like nearly all artists, it took Whitmore a while to settle into a mature, characteristic style. Below, I feature examples of his earlier work. These images were competently done, but do not stand out from works of other illustrators from that era. Nevertheless, his work was already appearing in major magazines, and by the mid-1950s Coby Whitmore had truly become the Coby Whitmore we know.


    Typical Whitmore illustrations from his mature period
    The man in the upper image strikes me as looking a lot like William F. Buckley, founder of National Review.

    Advertisement from around 1942
    Whitmore is already adding a dab of the risqué.

    From around 1944
    I don't know the source, but it's probably from an advertisement or perhaps a story. During World War 2 women were used to ferry aircraft from place to place around the country. A few might have been test pilots who checked out newly-built aircraft. None, so far as I know, were test pilots of the classical kind who wrung out prototype airplanes. As long as I'm being picky, pilots almost always enter the cockpit from the left side of the aircraft, not the right, as pictured here.

    Saturday Evening Post story illustration - 8 December 1945
    The woman's pose echoes the one from around 1942, above.

    Cosmopolitain cover, July 1946
    Whitmore did a number of covers for Cosmo in the early post-war years.

    Advertisement - 1947
    The car in the background seem oddly old-fashioned -- late 1930s styling. But Whitmore was a car guy, and must have had his reasons for including that vintage.

    Story illustration - 1948

    Illustration for Schlitz Beer advertisement - c. 1949
    This image and the one above it include plenty of background detail, something unusual for Whitmore. But in the late 1940s, many art directors expected it.

    Illustration for Arrow Shirt advertisement - 1949

    Saturday Evening Post cover - 5 January 1952
    At last, Whitmore gets to seriously combine his love of cars and beautiful women. The styling is imaginary, though the basic shapes are early-1950s.

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    William Holman Hunt (1827-1910) was a founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, along with Gabriel Dante Rossetti and John Everett Millais. As his Wikipedia entry notes, he continued its principles during his career to a greater extent than the others.

    From today's perspective, Pre-Raphaelite art in its purest technical sense would be considered "hard-edge." The PRB link above notes that "sloshy" (presumably "painterly") art was something the brothers were strongly against. Subject matter varied, but Hunt's usually contained a moralistic or literary-with-moralistic-overtones core. But in order to earn a living as painters, the PRBs often found that they had to rely on portraiture. This was certainly the case for Millais, who "went establishment," being knighted and made president of the Royal Academy.

    As for Hunt, I find his most important paintings more interesting than likable, though I don't actually dislike them. I suppose this is because I usually don't care for hard-edge painting.


    A converted British Family sheltering a Christian Missionary from the Persecution of the Druids - 1850

    Claudio and Isabella - 1850

    The Hireling Shepherd - 1851

    Our English Coast (Strayed Sheep) - 1852

    The Awakening Conscience - 1853

    The Scapegoat - 1854

    Isabella and the Pot of Basil - 1867

    Bianca - 1869

    The Lady of Shalott - 1886-1905

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  • 05/23/16--01:00: Fritz Willis' Non-Pinups
  • Fritz Willis (1907-1979) was a first-rate pinup artist who did other kinds of illustration earlier in his career. But even then, his focus was on beautiful young women.

    For more information about him and discussions regarding his work along with examples (some of which I present below), you can link here, here, here, here and here.

    I get the impression that Willis might have been a bit more interested in his pinup's faces, rather than their bodies. That's because he sometimes painted heads that are too large compared to the rest of the body. You can check this if you're interested by Googling on Willis and then clicking on Images.

    Here are examples of Fritz Willis' illustration art, mostly of the rare, non-pinup variety.


    Setting the stage, here are two pinups painted in Willis' mature style.

    A story illustration, but I don't have the source.

    Two story spreads from Collier's Magazine

    Story illustration from Saturday Evening Post -- 22 November 1958.

    More unsourced story illustrations. Willis worked on full-color advertisements (fairly rare in the 1940s and 50s) and illustrated for major "slicks" such as the Post and Collier's. By these criteria, he was successful even before he drifted into art for pinup calendars.

    He also did cover art for Ice Follies programs for many years.

    The cover of a how-to book Willis did for Walter Foster.

    July 1947 page for Esquire magazine, an early step towards pinup art.

    I include this for its simplified brushwork -- not typical Willis.

    Finally, a near-pinup bathing suit image.

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    Charley Parker called my attention to the passing of Ken Auster (1949-2016). Some images of his paintings and a short biography can be found here.

    Auster earned an art degree in college and then spent a number of years in commercial art, doing surfer-themed t-shirt graphics and other such work. Around 20 years ago, he shifted to painting. His style evolved into broad-brush, sketchy, impressionist (but not of the broken-color variety) painting featuring strong use of color to help create atmosphere. He did a good deal of plein air work, much of it in cities. In recent years he painted many bar and restaurant scenes.

    An interesting practice was the titles her assigned to his works. Often they are ironic takes on what he was depicting, as can be seen in the sampling below.


    Coastal Cactus

    Point Reyes

    San Francisco street scene
    Auster's urban scenes often made use of strong value contrasts. This also has some contra-jour.

    Swarming - 1997

    Primary Transportation

    Land of Relentless Sun - c.2014
    A rainy winter day in California (rains can get very heavy there at times).

    Knock Out
    The background image is George Bellows' Dempsey and Firpo (1924) located at the Whitney Museum of American Art. So I wonder if this is a scene from an actual bar.

    King Cole Bar
    The background painting is Old King Cole by Maxfield Parrish, located in the King Cole Bar in New York's St. Regis Hotel.

    How About a Biscuit
    The background image is Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party that is housed in the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. Perhaps a reproduction or copy is in a bar unbeknownst to me.

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    This is probably the least-informative post I've ever done. That's because I can't seem to find anything on the Internet or in my reference material in the way of a biography of Dorothy Hood (1918-1984).

    That strikes me as rather strange because she was the ace fashion illustrator for the famous Lord & Taylor store in New York in the 1950s and 1960s.

    A couple of years ago I wrote about Irwin Caplan, a well-known cartoonist who taught fashion art back when I was in art school. Caplan regularly brought a copy of the Sunday edition of The New York Times to the classroom so that we could paw through it and see what the top fashion illustrators were doing. Since Lord & Taylor advertised heavily in the Sunday Times, we got to see a lot of Hood's work.

    Somewhere I read that at one point Hood damaged her drawing hand and had to learn to draw with the other one. But I can't seem to locate that source either, so take it as hearsay.

    All I can do for now is show some examples of her work. Fashion art (and photography) have changed since her time, not necessarily for the better.


    From 1954

    From 1958

    From 1958

    From 1964

    From 1964

    From 1964

    From 1965

    From 1964

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