Monday, December 29, 2014


Auad Publishing, which produced books about noted illustrators Robert Fawcett and Al Dorne, has done it again with an important new book about illustrator Al Parker (1906-1985).  The 9' x 12" book contains 208 color pages with a rich cross section of Parker's work, along with family photos, reference materials and supporting essays.  The text was written primarily by Stephanie Plunkett, Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Norman Rockwell Museum but I was pleased to contribute as a co-author, along with Leif Peng.

Parker was famous for his diverse visual solutions.  While other illustrators worked hard to create a single recognizable brand, Parker's hallmark was ceaseless experimentation.  I can't think of another illustrator who could pick up and put down artistic styles with such ease:







Here's a sneak preview of the book: My essay says that Parker was the illustrator for the "interregnum"-- the power vacuum when the old gods of illustration (Norman Rockwell, Leyendecker, N.C. Wyeth, etc. ) were departing but the new gods (Pushpin Studios, Robert Weaver, Bernie Fuchs, Bob Peak, etc.) had not yet arrived.   Everything was up for grabs; the styles of illustration which dominated the first half of the 20th century were becoming obsolete, but the new styles had not yet found their footing. 

In that window of time, Parker became the leading illustrator who explored dozens of new paths and planted dozens of new seeds.  He never stayed in one place long enough to harvest those seeds himself, but they made profitable careers for a number of illustrators who followed in Parker's footsteps.

Good friends:  Al Parker surrounded by Bernie Fuchs and Bob Peak

Despite his diverse approaches to picture making, young art students and beginning illustrators had no trouble spotting Parker's work, and would rush to the magazine stands each month to see what Parker was up to.  As illustrator / comic artist Leonard Starr reported, "Parker was the man, and all the guys knew it."


A book like this about Parker is long overdue, and I recommend it strongly to fans of illustration.

 P.S.-- For those of you living in the Los Angeles area, the Nucleus Gallery is having an exhibition of original Al Parker work.  The show will only remain up for another week, and it provides a rare opportunity to see his great talents in the flesh.


MORAN said...

It's about time Parker had a book.

Anonymous said...

Hey ! If you dropped the law practice , think how many more of these you could put out !

Looking forward to it , Al McLuckie

conwayde said...

David - got the book for Xmas and it's great - everything an art book should be. Great job! Looking forward to the Mead Schaeffer book, which can't come out soon enough for me...

David Apatoff said...

MORAN-- Agreed!

Al McLuckie-- If I dropped the practice of law, I would no longer need the therapy that these books provide!

David C-- Many thanks. Your own article about Schaeffer in Illustration Magazine was a great addition to the year.

Happy new year to all.

northierthanthou said...

Rather striking images. Parker does interesting work.

Chris Turner said...

Just bought this last night, looks like it was a real labor of love to put together. It's great to see such a broad spectrum of his work. Excellent job!

David Apatoff said...

northierthanthou-- Agreed. If he was more interested in developing a recognizable brand, he'd be more famous today, but he seemed more concerned with what was interesting.

Chris Turner-- Thanks very much. Glad you like it.

Unknown said...

I really loved the first picture of the magazine cover.

Thanks for sharing

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