Thursday, January 31, 2008


It seems that no one can talk about the illustrations of Sanford Kossin for more than sixty seconds before bringing up his illustrations of the invasion of the Bay of Pigs.

This powerful collection of pictures is mentioned in the very first sentence of Kossin's biography in The Illustrator in America. It is mentioned in the second sentence of his biography on the Graphic Collectibles web site. And this week, it turned up on Leif Peng's excellent blog, Today's Inspiration. Leif posted Kossin's illustrations for a textbook:

and immediately somebody wrote in, recalling Kossin's powerful illustrations in May 1963 of the Bay of Pigs.

Kossin's work appeared in many venues over a long career, from science fiction magazines and text books to MAD magazine and paperbacks. Yet, his stunning pictures for Life Magazine of the tragic Bay of Pigs invasion stood out from all the rest:

Very different from Kossin's typical style, these pictures take their place in a great tradition of powerful war art. Their strength and abstract quality left a deep impression on every artist I know who saw them.

I thought I would post a selection of these illustrations, so you will know what they are talking about when somebody asks, "Did you ever see Kossin's illustrations from that issue of Life....

If you want to see the full set of pictures, you will have to wrestle some old timer for his copy of Life. It will be worth it.

[Note: now you no longer have to wrestle some old timer to see all these images. As a public service Leif Peng is posting them all on his great blog. Check them out!]


Anonymous David Kossin said...

That second to last picture is not from the Bay of Pigs invasion. That picture is of General MacArthur in a gun fight somewhere in the South Pacific. The original is hanging in the MacArthur Museum in Washington D.C. - David Kossin

2/01/2008 11:10 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

David, thanks for the correction. I have removed it. I clipped these pages from an old Life Magazine when I was a boy, and created a "Kossin" file. I wondered why that one illustration (also from Life) was in color while all the rest were in black and white. You've answered my question (and also fixed a flaw in my filing system). Thanks very much!

By the way, if you are related to Sanford Kossin, I hope you will convey my esteem to him. These pictures knocked me out as a boy.

Last summer I was talking to the artist Howard Chaykin at Comic Con in San Diego, and he said, "Say, did you ever see those illustrations by Kossin about the Bay of Pigs...."

2/01/2008 11:45 PM  
Blogger Blogart said...

I must congratulate you for this blog. I found it by pure chance, while browsing some Google pages about Mort Drucker. Your comments on him are very insightful and accurate. I am an illustrator myself, and a long time big fan of Drucker. Now I´m a big fan of your blog. Keep it up!

2/02/2008 10:06 PM  
Blogger Laine said...

I really enjoy reading your blog. It's an immensely educational and inspirational experience, especially since I have no access to great museums or art school. Thank you!!!

2/03/2008 1:58 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Thanks very much, Blogart. I appreciate it. And I'm always glad to meet another Mort Drucker fan!

Laine, thank you for writing. Your comment means a lot to me.

2/03/2008 3:22 PM  
Blogger Blogart said...

But, hey, where did you get those Drucker´s originals?!? And you should be kind enough to not cut in half the dialogues just because you´re talking about the hands he draws...

2/03/2008 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Daniel Ted said...

His illustrations are the best.

2/04/2008 5:13 AM  
Anonymous Brevard Art said...

This is really interesting stuff. I just got a blog started promoting the brevard art museum in melbourne fl. I have links realitive to the exhibits they will be showing. Please take a look at the Post Secret post I have up there, I really think you will like it alot. Let me know what you think...Thanks

2/11/2008 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Mod said...

Hi! I collected some old numbers of Reader´s Digest; my literary adolescence was pointed in that books and I loved (sorry, still love!) its hand made illustrations, notabily those about war. I think what the draws are the half of histories what its represent. Congratulations for this nice blog!

2/11/2008 4:22 PM  
Blogger illustrationISM said...

THESE ARE GREAT - sorta/kinda reminds me
of Ron Searle's early WWII drawings when he
journaled his p.o.w. days (years).

markJaquette @
illustrationISM &

2/11/2008 6:19 PM  

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