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Posts Tagged ‘illustration

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though.”*…

 

The frontispiece of Public and Private Life of Animals, by P. J. Stahl, illustrated by J. J. Grandville, and translated rom the French by J. Thompson; 1877; London, S. Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington.

This collection of acerbic animal fables, originally published in 1842 as Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux, boasts among its contributors some of the finest literary minds of mid 19th-century France, including Honoré de Balzac, George Sand, and the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel (under the pseudonym of P. J. Stahl). The book is also home to some of the finest work (some featured below) by the caricaturist J. J. Grandville, drawings in which we can see the satirical genius and inventiveness that would be unleashed in full glory just two years later with the publication of his wonderful Un autre monde.

See more at Public Domain Review; and visit the original at the Internet Archive.

* A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

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As we anthropomorphize, we might send carefully-limned birthday greetings to Joesph Stella; he was born on this date in 1877.  An accomplished illustrator, he is better known as a Futurist painter, perhaps especially for his depictions of industrial America and  his images of the Brooklyn Bridge.

He was one of the many artists to break out as a result of the 1913 Armory Show (he was considered by critics as important and influential as Duchamp and Picabia).  He was later associated with the American Precisionist movement of the 1910s–1940s.

A photo by Man Ray of Stella (foreground) and Marcel Duchamp (background, sitting under a portrait of Man Ray)

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“This is the last avant-garde. Bold new forms. The power to shock.”*…

 

Avant Garde was a seminal, but somewhat obscure, magazine, launched in 1968, that broke taboos, rattled some nerves, and made more than a few enemies. The brainchild of Ralph Ginzburg, am adventurous publisher, it was the third major collaboration between Ginzburg and Herb Lubalin, the magazine’s widely-admired art director.

Avant Garde is the magazine that gave birth to a much maligned and equally lauded typeface of the same name. A typeface that reveled in the mutability of letterforms, exhibited brilliantly by its extensive set of ligatured characters. The magazine’s logo, which inspired the typeface, is a perfect encapsulation of what the magazine represented in 1968, the year the magazine launched: exciting, vibrant, edgy, with just the right amount of playfulness to move it out of the corporateness its geometric sans serif forms might otherwise imply. The magazine ran for 3 years, spanning 14 square-sized issues, and only folded due to Ralph Ginzburg losing his long-running legal battle with the US government over obscenity charges (partly stemming from Ralph’s and Herb’s first collaboration, Eros magazine)…

Now Alexander Tochilovsky and The Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography at the Cooper Union have digitized the entire run of Avant Garde and made it available on the web.

* Don DeLillo, White Noise

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As we speculate on The Shock of the New, we might send masterfully-observed birthday greetings to Saul Erik Steinberg; he was born on this date in 1914.  A cartoonist and illustrator (best known for his work for The New Yorker, most notably View of the World from 9th Avenue), he described himself as “a writer who draws.”

People who see a drawing in the New Yorker will think automatically that it’s funny because it is a cartoon. If they see it in a museum, they think it is artistic; and if they find it in a fortune cookie they think it is a prediction.

–  Saul Steinberg

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Written by LW

June 15, 2016 at 1:01 am

“You didn’t ask for reality. You asked for more teeth”*…

 

From the dawn of science fiction…

An illustration from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

… to the somewhat more modern:

A Scent Of New-Mown Hay by John Blackburn

Maddd Science has ’em all.  Readers might also enjoy its creator’s (that’s to say Adam Rowe‘s) other Tumblrs: 70s Sci-Fi Art and Embellished History.

* “Dr. Wu,” Jurassic World

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As we agree with Yogi that “the future ain’t what it used to be,” we might spare a thought for Isaak Yudovich Ozimov, AKA Isaac Asimov; he died on this date in 1992.  A biochemistry professor, he is better remembered as an author– more specifically, as one one of the greatest science fiction authors of his time (imaginer of “The Foundation,” coiner of the term “robotics,” and author of “The Three Laws of Robotics“).  But Asimov was extraordinarily prolific; he published over 500 books– including (in addition to sci-fi) mysteries, a great deal of popular science, even a worthy volume on Shakespeare– and wrote an estimated 9,000 letters and postcards.

Asimov in 1965

Written by LW

April 6, 2016 at 1:01 am

“The illustrations in children’s books are the first paintings most children see”*…

 

American student Barbara Donahue (then Barbara Finlay) lived in Italy between August 1937 and March 1938, when she was 7 and 8 years old. She attended a Catholic school, the Istituto Vittoria Colonna, in Milan. There, she was issued these small soft-covered government-produced student notebooks, decorated with colorful, dramatic illustrations…

Barbara Finlay’s Italian education came at the tail end of a complicated 20-year project meant to teach loyalty to the Fascist regime in the country’s schools. Bill Donahue asked his mother to remember the curriculum she encountered. “It was all indoctrination published by the government,” Barbara told him. (He recorded her memories and sent them to me in an email.)

The textbooks said that Italy should have Ethiopia and that Mussolini was bringing prosperity back to Italy, developing farmland, building roads, and getting the trains to run on time. In one of the notebooks, there were two kids side by side. One is doing something patriotic [she can’t remember what], the other isn’t. You’re supposed to figure out which one is better. It isn’t too hard…

More illustrations from the notebooks, and more of the backstory, at “Illustrated Propaganda for Elementary-School Students in Mussolini’s Italy.”

* Anthony Browne

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As we note that the current presidential campaign is the first political experience that many children are having, we might recall that, while across the U.S. many are wearing green in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, it is also “Italian Unification Day”– the anniversary of the proclamation, in 1861, of the Kingdom of Italy. The “Risorgimento” had begun in 1815, and continued until 1871 (when Rome, which was named Italy’s capital in 1861, though it wasn’t then yet part of the Kingdom, finally entered); but in late 1860, Cavour and Garibaldi made a deal to join North and South, and to name Victor Emmanuel II as king– which was enough for the (new) Parliament to make its proclamation.

Induno’s “Proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy and the first Italian Parliament,” 1861

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Written by LW

March 17, 2016 at 1:01 am

“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness”*…

 

Conversely, it’s amazing how how complete the delusion that all mistakes are ugly…

Corey Johnson runs a Tumblr called “Art of the Glitch,” where he posts images that he’s captured of erratic irregularities in analog technology, but only those that meet the requirements of his personal interest in glitch art…

“There was a precision and a refinement to that particular glitch style that I’ve been chasing after in my own work,” Johnson says. He’s not interested in the total destruction that some glitch artists practice; he sees the glitch as “more a storytelling tool than an aesthetic unto itself.” More resolutely, he says he’s looking for that “weird balance of destruction and tangibility.”

No more is this obvious in his latest series of images that have been created from obstreperous VCR errors. These often skew a single subject—the centerpiece of his story—especially faceless people: juddering skulls wrapped in pallid skin with sudden bands of discordant color ripping across them like the scratch of a claw. Add to this the inescapable repetition of the GIF, and these images almost seem depraved, resembling hell’s endless torture of its sinners…

More at “The Creepy Beauty of VCR Errors,” and “Art of the Glitch.”

* Leo Tolstoy, The Kreutzer Sonata

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As we glory in glitches, we might send delightfully-drawn birthday greetings to Paul Gustave Doré; he was born on this date in 1832.  An engraver, illustrator, and sculptor, Dore is probably best-remembered as the man who showed us Heaven and Hell: the canonical illustrator of works by Rabelais, Balzac, Milton, Cervantes, and Dante.

Don Quixote, his horse Rocinante, and his squire Sancho Panza after an unsuccessful attack on a windmill.

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The Tempest of Hell in THE DIVINE COMEDY

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Written by LW

January 6, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Our inventions mirror our secret wishes”*…

 

Try your hand at recognizing products from the diagrams, like the one above, submitted with their patent applications: from the collection in the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, “Can You Guess the Invention Based on These Patent Illustrations?

* Lawrence Durrell

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As we turn up the tinkering, we might spare a thought for Freelan Oscar Stanley; he died on this date in 1940.  Working with his twin brother Francis, Stanley developed (in 1883) a dry plate photographic process, and started the very successful Stanley Dry Plate Company (sold to Eastman Kodak in 1905).

But Stanley and his brother are bettered remembered for their second enterprise, the Stanley Motor Company. The brothers began working on steam powered cars in 1897, and built thousands of them them until the 1920s.  At racing events, The Stanley Steamer often competed successfully against gasoline powered cars; indeed, in 1906, it set a world record for fastest mile (28.2 seconds, at a speed of 127 mph).

It’s worth observing that Freelan Stanley shares his passing date with Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, who died on this date in 1804.  In 1769, Cugnot, a military engineer, invented the world’s first fuel-propelled vehicle–a gun tractor commissioned by the French government.  The following year he produced the first mechanically-driven “horseless carriage”; his steam tricycle, driven by a steam engine, carried four passengers and was the forerunner of the modern motor car– and more specifically, of the Stanley Brothers’ Steamers.

The Stanley Twins, Freelan back/right

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Written by LW

October 2, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Isn’t life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?”*…

 

It’s well known that before Andy Warhol became the most famous artist in New York—if not the world—he worked for several years as a commercial illustrator. For instance, he did a bunch of album covers in the mid- to late 1950s, a couple of which are quite familiar to anyone who follows jazz—even if they’re not familiar “as Warhol covers.”

Another of his gigs lasted about four years, that being occasional illustrations for children’s stories in the “Best In Children’s Books” series published by Nelson Doubleday. He illustrated six stories between 1957 and 1960—since there were 33 volumes in the series at a minimum, we can be sure that the series was pretty popular. Every volume had roughly ten stories in it, and each story featured art by a different illustrator. So Warhol’s output in this series was a tiny fraction of the art contained therein. One of the other artists who did illustrations in the same series was Richard Scarry…

More of of this bedtime tale– and more nifty examples of Warhol’s early work– at “Andy Warhol, Children’s Book Illustrator.”

* Andy Warhol

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As we turn the page, we might send birthday greetings to Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier; he was born on this date in 1811 (though some sources date it on yesterday’s date).  A poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, and art and literary critic, Gautier was a champion of Romaniticism, a point of reference for many subsequent literary traditions (e.g., Symbolism and Modernism), and widely esteemed by writers as diverse as Balzac, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Pound, Eliot, Henry James, Proust, and Wilde.  As editor of the influential review L’Artiste, he editorialized in support of “Art for Art’s Sake.”

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Written by LW

August 31, 2015 at 1:01 am

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