Saturday, January 22, 2011

Anton Otto Fischer, 8 years at sea makes a better marine painter

There were a few illustrators to study under Howard Pyle in Delaware that specialized in marine work—meaning they painted a lot of ships and sea related imagery. A century ago ships were a much bigger presence in our lives, being the sole option for travel to Europe, and one to consider for travel almost anywhere from one coast to another. One of the finest marine painters to come through the Brandywine Valley was Anton Otto Fischer. (1880-1962) Fischer was German born, but came to America while in his twenties after spending almost eight years at sea. It was this kind of life experience that Pyle liked to see his students partake in, to give their pictures life, and authenticity. I'd bet it was a feature that Pyle would have embraced in Fischer. In 1910 Fischer caught a break by being paired up with Jack London, and for the next few years he often did work for London's stories.
During World War II Fischer served as an official war artist in the Coast Guard, aboard the cutter "Campbell". During a long career in illustration, Fischer worked for magazines such as Harper's Weekly, The Saturday Evening Post and Life, and was painting private commissions right up to the end.

Check the Post link above- it's a great gallery of some of Fischer's covers.
and there's a large slide show of Fischer work here, though accompanied by some music I can't seem to turn off...
and a great group at American Art Archives


I got news today that my application for full membership to the Society of Illustrators has been accepted. This organization has a rich history from deep in the Golden Age, greatly related to the kind of imagery and work I present here on VIEW. Most of the American illustrators I present here were members of the Society, and it's nothing less than an honor to be carrying on their tradition.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Virtues of Gray?

This post is a question that has recently been tossed about in my editorial head.

A great deal of work in the Golden Age of illustration was published as halftone (or grayscale) art. For every nice color plate I find for a new Dover publication, or to post here on VIEW, I find three that were printed in various tones of gray.

My question is— Does that work hold any value and or interest to this audience today? I'm not speaking about the general public, I mean people who are fans of illustration for whatever reason, and who are usually the ones who throw down a few bucks for a Dover collection of Golden Age images? If you've been tempted to comment in the past but haven't, or even if you have, THIS IS YOUR WEEK. Throw me some comments, let me know, it could—no, will—affect the selection and layout of my next book to be submitted....

SO—To help the discussion, or at least what I hope will be one, I've picked a few pieces of grayscale art that I have found worth looking at more than once. I don't want to influence your comments on this, so I'll just give you the facts, and you tell me, does this material merit some study, would you pass it up, or is it as worthwhile as a similar color plate?

This first piece picks up on the last entry- The Prospector is an N. C. Wyeth piece from a McClure's Magazine, 1906.
Wyeth's teacher follows, that's Howard Pyle with Blackbeard's last fight, Century Magazine, 1894.
Sydney M. Chase is weighing the fish from Scribner's, June, 1908.
Fourth is Woldemar Fredirich, with a scene of "The Wild Huntsman" from The Illustrator, 1895.
and last is George Wright, with the firefighting scene, Scribner's, 1902.

Let me know if this kind of imagery is welcome in a book you might buy today, and why. Comments encouraged.