Friday, October 12, 2007

ONE LOVELY DRAWING, part thirteen

The illustrator Bernie Fuchs erased this lovely drawing in 1964

1964 was the beginning of an era of bold experimentation in the United States. The Beatles and Bob Dylan were revolutionizing popular music; Martin Luther King won the Nobel prize as the civil rights movement gained momentum; humans were orbiting the earth and headed for the moon; Cassius Clay became the heavyweight champ and changed his name to Muhammad Ali; clothing and hair styles became adventurous; and all across America, students began protesting the war in Vietnam and experimenting with meditation or mind expanding psychedelic drugs.

In this climate, Look magazine commissioned Fuchs to create portraits of the leading civil rights leaders of the day. Fuchs began with the sensitive pencil portrait above. Then he paused, erased the drawing and turned the illustration board upside down. Starting fresh, he selected a large crayon and used slashing purple lines to come up with this much larger and bolder version:

You can still see the traces of the original discarded drawing below his signature.

The final version published in Look magazine was bolder still, a strikingly innovative work .

Welcome to the 1960s!


neil said...

awesome. Thanks for sharing.

L. A. Stern said...

I love the 60s & 70s "commercial art" and this is Fuchs at his best. Thanks for the blast from the past

Anonymous said...

Um, was it 1967 that made you take this detour back in time? No vanity intended. None.

Mats Halldin said...

Nice post! How do you find your images - I love them,
I always wondered why Bay Area Figurative ended up as an more or less abandoned path in art. When I read this post I realized Diebenkorn et al were all part of a contemporary trend, and not an isolated phenomenon.
Again, tanks for posting
/ Mats

Del said...

these pictures reminded how much i wish i was alive in the 60s. Just for the revoloutionary uprisings.

Anonymous said...

I tend to think that by the time the 50s rolled around, the top figural talents in the US were scrambling for work anywhere they could get it. That means a lot of talented people, with drive, energy and excellent aesthetic educations, doing anything they could to stay active and relevant in any venue they could find. This resulted in near instantaneous osmosis between fine arts and commercial illustration. Deibekorn's 60s illustrators don't seem all that radical when you realize Fuchs was already active and doing his extraordinary work.

And of course, if illustrators proved more talented than fine artists, then fine art had to become about something other than talent. But let's not go there. :)

By the way, there's a gorgeous selection of fuchs' work at the famous artist school website.

David Apatoff said...

Mats, I like to use original art that has not been widely reproduced elsewhere. This blog wouldn't be serving a very useful function if I simply recirculated art that everyone has already seen.

Nina said...

I liked the different versions. Thanks for posting.

Nina said...

Thanks for the fable about the pomegranate. I believe it made my husband rather smug about the fact that he has eaten a pomegranate. I am not any sort of artist, but I love to look. Your site and others have finally inspired me to try making a more visually pleasing blog design. I am sure my regular readers are grateful to you for that.

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