Sunday, February 8, 2009

Willy Pogány's Masterwork




VIEW has come into being because I am constantly immersed in and searching for new material concerning vintage illustration. While there is a lot of information out there, much of it is scattered, fragmented, and some of it is difficult or expensive to access.

This blog is about what I happen across that makes me say WOW!—Things I find that I may have not seen before, find in a rare or forgotten place, and a few things will surface that simply continue to interest me again and again. It will be about what I'm working on, looking at, or finding inspiration in. Mostly, I am hoping to make some of this great work accessible again, to those who will truly appreciate it.

With that being said-

Most of the past month has been spent combing over the work of Willy Pogány. As an art student in NYC twenty some-odd years ago, I found a book with his illustrations in a used book shop, which I ponied up the funds for because it had a potentially interesting story, and some very interesting illustration, and I had never heard of this guy before. Fast forward nearly a quarter of a century, and I am going through almost 30 volumes that contain his work for an upcoming project.

Pogány is not a household name, though he was very successful throughout his career. There are some good (though concise) biographies of him online, and opinions of his work vary almost as much as his styles and mediums do. I've been a fan of his work almost since I picked up that book those many years ago, but it was very recently that I had a chance to explore his work in Samuel Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Pogány's take on this long poem, published in London in 1910 by Harrap, is easily one of the most impressive books I have ever seen. Pogány's line work is among the best of the period, but what really makes this book something special is his own book design. Book manufacturing just before WWI was at a peak that we will likely never see again. Harrap pulled out all the stops for this book, and Pogány created a work that has to be seen from title to tailpiece. Entirely hand lettered. Art and decoration throughout. Tipped-in plates as well as pages printed with multiple color passes. Perhaps the best part, a sense of composition that really makes you want to travel over every spread.

Here is some of what I mean.



I later found a good deal of images from the volume posted on this site-
http://www.victorianweb.org/art/illustration/pogany/index.html

This book is very hard to find, and very pricey when you find one. But take a look at it if you can. It is an incredible visual feast.

To start digging on Pogány, try these sites-
http://www.bpib.com/pogany.htm
http://www.animationarchive.org/2007/07/life-drawing-willy-poganys-drawing.html

See you next week—Jeff

3 comments:

mchughstudios said...

A great find, my friend! Thanks for starting this blog. It rocks. I am trying to make more of a serious effort to study this very topic, so it is great to find this type of resource.
I'll be sure to keep an eye on this site!
---Yer buddy, Jeremy

Saahabi said...

Hi Jeff,
Nice to find a blog of the person whose name keeps popping up on my bookshelfs (Dover Publications on golden age illustrators books)!
Already marked you in my Favorites!
About Pogany: do you know the fantastic blog of Mr. Door Tree, who frequently has very nice high resolution pics on golden age illustrators, and this week, the 9th of February the complete Tannhauser by Pogany to download? Here's the adress: http://goldenagecomicbookstories.blogspot.com/

Have a nice day,
Saahabi

Jeff A. Menges said...

Saahabi-
Thanks for pointing Mr. Door Tree out to me. He's doing some great stuff there, and I will certainly keep his site on my lists in the future. The knowledge of what IS out there, will help me shape where I want to go with VIEW. While there will be overlap, I will try to bring a fresh approach to whatever I explore. It's still taking shape...
Glad you are liking the work at Dover. More coming soon...
Jeff