Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Master Fantasist— Sidney Sime

Many moons ago, I picked up a book at The Strand bookstore in NYC, on A British illustrator named Sidney Sime (1867-1941). The work in the book ( Sidney Sime: Master of the Mysterious, Thames and Hudson, 1980) is almost exclusively grayscale—and while he did do some color work, the majority of the work he presented during his active illustration years—was reproduced as halftone work. Sime worked early in his career for numerous publications, including The Paul Mall Magazine, Eureka, and The Idler (which Sime later owned and edited) . He had a penchant for strange, dream-like scenes, and a bit of surrealism, occasionally touched with a light dash of humor. In 1904, he made the aquaintence of Lord Dunsany. Dunsany was a writer— short stories and plays, mostly—whose writing was well matched with the imaginary places that Sime depicted. The pair began a working relationship that lasted through 6 volumes of illustrated tales, from 1905 to about 1916, with an few additional frontispieces for another decade. The work Sime did with Dunsany is the bulk of what we can see of his today, and a small amount of it survives in reprints.

The pairing complimented each other so well, that not only did Sime illustrate for Dunsany, but in 1912, Dunsany wrote a book of stories about existing Sime works. (The Book of Wonder) Sime's strange characters and fantastic settings influenced many artists after him, and his sense of mystery continues to entertain us today.

These images are a few of the ones I did not find so readily elsewhere. Though very little of Sime's color work is in print, I did find one piece in my files, from an Illustration House show, 20 years ago. There are many sites scattered around that feature a fair amount of Sime's work, one of the most teasing being that of his former home and museum/gallery in Worplesdon, England. Most of Sime's work was left to the town trustees, to establish a gallery. While they have done so, the site provides only a glimpse at very small images which we can't see anywhere else. Hopefully in time, more of that may emerge.


The third image is an enlarged detail from the second-

Friday, April 8, 2011

Kay Nielsen, Denmark's star of the Golden Age.

There's a lot going on in the studio this month. That's a good thing—but it does tend to impact the frequency of blog reports.

Looking over the list, as I work on the 50th VIEW post, It says to me that there are a few of the characters in our story that are still in need of credit. While I revel in uncovering the ones that are overlooked and/or buried, there are a few illustrators that we haven't discussed, or looked at, that are familiar to many of us—but maybe not to all. To continue to look past them would border on disrespect. Can't have that.
So let me bring one to the front, who has been influencing me since I was a wee lad, though I had no clue who he was, until much more recently.
Kay Nielsen (1886-1957) was Danish by birth, though he came to America in 1936. Nielsen did work on a few fairy tale volumes, including Andersen's Tales and The Brother's Grimm. His work had a very distinct style—perhaps with some traces of influence from British line artist Aubrey Beardsley. Some others whose work fits this mold might be Harry Clarke, and the work of John Austen in his edition of Hamlet.

Nielsen's work has some great theatrical quality as well—something that did not go unrecognized—even his early illustration work has some of the feeling of a set, with lot's of flat areas of color, and decorative elements. If Nielsen had a masterpiece in illustration it was his edition of East of the Sun, West of the Moon.(1914) More literature from his native Scandanavia, this collection of myths provides some great imagery for Nielsen's sense of environment. There are many illustrated editions, Nielsen's may be the definitive one. Here are some of the best from East of the Sun, West of the Moon.

Jim Vadeboncouer's Nielsen Bio-
Calla facsimile edition- here
Back in this century- If you're in the states, up in that NE corner near Mass., not (too) far from me, there is a very promising lecture opportunity going on at the The Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies at Norman Rockwell Museum this coming Sunday- From the museum's info--Dr. Jennifer A. Greenhill, Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Illinois. Dr. Greenhill’s lecture is entitled “Imperiled Illustrators: J. C. Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell, and the War at ‘The Saturday Evening Post.’” This lecture is based on an article Dr. Greenhill is currently writing about the moment when Leyendecker leaves “The Post” and Rockwell takes over as the magazine's star illustrator. For more info on the event- check it out here. Thanks to the museum for allowing me to pass that on to you.