Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Bernie Fuchs and his wife Anna Lee (known to all as Babe) in front of their new house        

In 1961 when the young Bernie Fuchs moved his family into the house on Tanglewood Lane, no one could've anticipated the explosive decade ahead.  The 1960s shook the whole field of illustration just as they shook the country.

The 60s brought revolutions in art, music and literature.  Assassinations, political unrest over civil rights, women's rights and the Vietnam War created great volatility and ferment.  A handful of illustrators sensed the new creative possibilities and were quick to jump the fence.

Illustrations that were merely representational in the 1950s exploded with energy in the 1960s:

Left side by an unknown artist in 1956, right side by Fuchs in 1961. See my earlier post comparing such images. 

Wild new DayGlo colors and psychedelic combinations changed the world's palette.  Bright orange was pitted against shocking pink.  Turquoise was pitted against purple. Writing and collage were introduced into illustrations:

Bold new leaders and radical political trends inspired bold new graphic treatments:

Martin Luther King done with an abstract expressionist's flair

An impressionistic treatment matched the youth and vigor of John F. Kennedy 

Illustrators took unprecedented liberties, leading public taste rather than catering to it:

Not only did illustration look different at the end of the 60s, so did illustrators.

Compare the fresh faced kid at the top of this post with the hippie version of Bernie Fuchs

The white hot innovations of the 60s were still playing out 50 years later.  An uncanny number of these innovations were plotted in the art studio over the garage at 3 Tanglewood Lane:

If the city of Westport had a lick of sense, they'd put a bronze plaque on the studio rather than demolishing it .


MORAN said...

Wish I was working in the 60s.

James Gurney said...

Fascinating series of posts, which hooked me right away with that graphic of the teardown notice. You've woven together social history, biography, and connoisseurship. It sounds like there's enough here for a book-length work, if only you had time to write it.

kevin cunningham said...

enjoyed the 3 posts about tanglewood lane and westport. my uncle lived up the road in wilton. uncle pat was in the ad business and used to take me to derossa's italian restaurant. wesport was a neat old town.

i agree with what gurney said above about writing a book. advertising has changed substantially and the artistic quality diminished in many cases. commercialization and the mighty dollar squeezed the flavor out.

destruction of the house is symbolic of destroying quality and how the decline of art shows a the declining state of a culture.

David Apatoff said...

James Gurney-- Thanks so much, your view means a great deal. I agree there would be ample material for a book here-- once you start looking, it's like standing under Niagara Falls with a paper cup. As for that part about "if only you had time to write it," you seem to be the single most productive guy in North America. I keep watching you and trying to figure out how you do it.

kevin cunningham-- I agree that Westport truly was a neat old town although many of the current residents seem to have forgotten. I too had the pleasure of going to derossa's with an old timer Westport cartoonist (but that's a whole different story); Does anyone know if it's still there? And I especially concur with your assessment of the meaning of the destruction of the house

MORAN-- Well, I gather they were exciting times to be illustrators, but keep in mind that nobody knew back then how all the political and cultural turmoil was going to turn out.

Donald Pittenger said...

Ah, lettering. The first nail in the coffin of my glorious commercial art career that never happened. (By the time I graduated from art school, I knew I had to find a different line of work.)

Laurence John said...

David, i see an obvious pop art influence in Fuchs' flatter, more graphic, looser rendered work of the 60s.

have you ever heard (or read) him confirm as such ?

Anita Pandolfi said...

So great to find your blog. Just today I was talking to a Letterpress printer here in Asheville NC about the possibility of printing some Harrison Cady plates that had been made into bookends. I found them in a junk/antique store in Connecticut. Now looking in to sending them to Michigan to have them mounted on a wood backing of the proper depth to suit the letter press.
Connecticut's highways and byways are still a source of illustrators work. I went to Pair School of art now College of art and studied with Rudy Zallinger, Howard Munce, Ken Davies and others. Great experience. Also, with Dick Hess who lived up the road from me. My neighbor here in Ashevill has a Leroy Neiman portrait, I think its his first wife. He did few portraits. She'd like to part with it someone gave it to her years ago.So I am thrilled to have found your blog and will be mining the archive.

David Apatoff said...

Donald Pittenger-- Those who master lettering seem to become lifelong members of the cult, and every once in a while can't resist bringing it out to show off as a parlor trick. Walt Kelly, the creator of Pogo, was a prime example. Kelly was a splendid artist yet devoted time to lettering: Deacon Muskrat spoke in gothic calligraphy while P.T. Bridgeport spoke in ornate filigree.

Laurence John-- He never mentioned it, although he knew Peter Max and other flat, pop-influenced artists and was a big fan (and friend) of Al Parker who also did "flatter, more graphic, looser rendered work." The one artist Fuchs repeatedly mentioned was Degas.

Anita Pandolfi-- Thanks for writing. Yes, there are still some illustrators to be found in Connecticut although some of the grand old artists you mention, such as Howard Munce, are gone.

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Anne said...

Not surprising Fuchs would mention Degas. One can see the influence in Degas's horse racing pictures. As far as I'm concerned, Fuchs defined the era. His illustrations often over shadowed the text!Thank you for your work and blog