Saturday, November 19, 2011

Getting things Dunn

Last week was "Illustration Week" in NYC. It was declared so by the mayor—and gave NYC an excuse to tout the rich history of illustration that has passed through it, in the publishing houses, the schools, and of course the illustrators themselves. The Society of Illustrators made the most of it, with a week of special guests, lectures, and events. I was happy to add my two cents late in the week with a lecture on the illustrations of Alice in Wonderland, previewing my upcoming Dover book to the Lewis Carroll Society of North America— who happened to hold their annual Fall meeting in NYC that same week. It was a busy week following up a trip to Illuxcon, which all means a longer than usual absence from the blog. Let's get back on track.

I try not to turn to book reviews for subject matter when posting—but one came into the studio recently, that so completely covers an artist I've wanted to feature, that I can't ignore the book and the material it so masterfully displays. Harvey Dunn (1884-1952) came through Howard Pyle's Brandywine school, but with a direction all his own (primarily, a western one). I've looked for works by Dunn before with the hope of compiling a post of his works, but until now his work has not been as well collected as some of his other Pyle school alums. The right man for this challenge was Walt Reed. Walt is a legend in American illustration. He and his son Roger run Illustration House in NYC—a gallery for original illustration works, and Walt is the author behind numerous major books on illustration, most importantly, The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000. I consider this book the first stop for much of the research I do, and it would be required reading for my class were it still in print.

Harvey Dunn: Illustrator and Painter of the Pioneer West is expertly compiled, both in its selection of images and the accompanying texts. The section that I find most interesting is in the end of the volume, where a small book called "An Evening in the Classroom" from 1934 has been reprinted in its entirety, giving fantastic insight into Dunn's teaching approach. Don't let this one slip by you.