Wednesday, February 08, 2017


Last week I showed combat art from World War I by illustrator Kerr Eby.  Back in the US, Eby illustrated books and worked for magazines such as Life and Century.

I like this tiny drawing by Eby of a town square.  The original is scarcely over 2 inches tall, but it is filled with dozens of people-- an exercise in artistic crowd control.  

The townsfolk are crowded around an automobile, which was big news in those days.  Many of the figures are little more than abstract designs of blacks and whites: 

But other figures have been given their own character, such as the unfazed old timer who has seen it all and can't find the motivation to stand up and walk over to the car:

Others are defined by their distinctive hats:

Eby's style seems like a precursor to R. Crumb and other strongly opinionated illustrators of the 60s
Another stand out: the guy who walks away:

Eby could've drawn this picture two or three times as large and given himself more room to maneuver.  Instead he chose to make a dense little jewel of a drawing.

I like the way he used line and judgment to infuse character and personality in this scene.    


MORAN said...

Do you have a date for this? I like it but it doesn't look the kind of drawing you usually show here.

Mark said...

Amazing. My first impression is it looks like everything Robert Crumb has always been aiming at. The blend accurate drawing and cartoon fancy has rarely looked so easily balanced. As loose as it is, there's hardly an error in the drawing to indicate it hasn't been traced! Thanks for introducing me to another great artist!

David Apatoff said...

MORAN-- I suspect this drawing is from the early 1930s. I do try to show a diverse array of drawings here; I like all kinds of work, although I suppose I have a special affinity for that sensitive, lively pencil line used by Sickles, Briggs, Fuchs. I think I'll show some "farther out" drawings in the near future to give a broader sense for what I like.

Mark-- I agree! There is a real Crumb-like tone to these drawings; blow them up 300% and they look stylish, potent and very contemporary. As so often happens, when we dig down a little bit, some of our innovators don't look quite so innovative.