Friday, March 9, 2007

Two words: Robert Fawcett

Have always always been a lover of the American Illustration tradition. All those great names and the art: Pyle, Wyeth, Dunn, Held,Leyendecker, Flagg, ROCKWELL. And the list goes on and on.
So much has written on the topic in the last twenty years that it's hard to say more, but to provide my own reminiscinces of how I encountered it all. First saw all that stuff way back in high school and earlier; in those days, you had to hunt it out. Mostly it was to be found in the Public Library, the last best kept secret of the Small Town Community. The shelves were generally full of those books that Jim Vadebonceur is now repackaging in his IMages series: often with that strange hardcover coloured binding with the ebossed decoration? and occasional first editions. The print quality was not the best , certainly nothing like it is now. But the art came through: the compositons, the dynamic poses. I knew I looking at the right stuff. Over the years I have upped the ante, getting the newer reprinted material (remember the Ballantine books by David Larkin?) going to see original art, gallery exhibits, ticking things off thelist of must sees. The thrill of seeing N.C.Wyeth in the oil for the first time....!
It may be surprise to some that such stuff was not in fashion for the longest time: it was in vogue in the art schools of the time, at least the ones I went to. In the illustration course at Sheridan, the teachers thought these artists were old hat. The Illustrators Annuals looked very different: the names were Peak, Fuchs, English, Heindel, and alot of "interpretive" stuff. I have come to appreciate these names more recently, but didn't think they had a patch on the earlier artists! The sheer drawing ability! There were a few- Frazetta was big among us cognoscenti, but not yet mainstream. The lines between "high" illustration and pulp, comics and so on had not yet blurred. It is great to see how the scene has changed and to see these great artists come back into favour. Vindicated!

And so to Fawcett, always one of my faves because of his more graphic approach. The use of line. Use of strong values. The rough application of media. The compositions are astounding. The storytelling is careful, succint.

The sheer drawing!


Robert said...

Great Illustration! Was his death and career a loss to the Art World?

Mike Vosburg said...

Couldn't agree more. You can see my own homage to Fawcett at

Mike Vosburg