Saturday, May 27, 2017


One night Bernie Fuchs awoke to noises in his studio on Tanglewood Lane.  He found his friend, the great illustrator Robert Fawcett, highly inebriated.  

It was not uncommon for illustrators who were working late to get together to paint and drink and talk about the art business.  Fawcett had stopped in for a chat (the door to the studio was always unlocked) and tipped over a chair.  Fuchs gave Fawcett coffee and sent him home in a cab. 

The following morning Fuchs discovered that Fawcett had come across Fuchs's checkbook lying out on a table and written himself a check on Bernie's account.

Fawcett drunkenly signed Bernie's name to the check, then left it behind.

Fuchs was so delighted he pinned the check to his bulletin board next to his easel.  It remained there for the rest of his life.  "Bob," he recalled fondly, "Was the first great illustrator I met when I moved to Westport."

Some nights the royalty of American illustration-- artists such as Mark English and Bob Heindel-- would sit around that Tanglewood studio, talking and working.  Heindel recalled,  "I liked hanging out with those guys.  The better your competition was, the better your own work was going to be."  He continued,  "Any time you worked on something and you knew that Bernie was involved, you knew that you had to do the very best you could possibly do. He brought that out in people.  And if you ever competed with Bernie, you knew going into it that he was going to beat the shit out of you.  But we never let the competition get in the way.  We are truly good friends."

For long years that generation of talented illustrators worked to do exciting and new things.  They got together, commented on each other's work, discussed how artists were mistreated and how to improve their profession. They transformed the direction of American illustration and changed the rights of artists for the generations that followed.

Today the studio is empty, stripped bare in preparation for the bulldozers.  Nothing left but the ghosts of what took place here. 

The local newspaper, Westport Now, considers it nothing more than "the Teardown of the Day."

But important and remarkable things happened here once.

The poet Isabel Allende urged, "write it down before it is erased by the wind."  My hope in writing down the story of Fuchs and his art is to prevent it from being erased by the wind.  

A final view of the window of Bernie Fuchs' studio, courtesy of the Westport blog, 06880


jeanne said...

this series is just great!

Anonymous said...

This may be very naive... but can you send these articles to the Westport Historic District Commission??

Amy Stef said...

We lived for 12 years at 8 Tanglewood lane and have fond memories of spending lazy summer days in the Fuch's pool with them..they were a lovely family and always gracious and kind neighbors...Bernie Fuchs made the street sign by hand - it was a charming hand painted sign...we miss our days "on the lane" and remember them with great affection..the house may evolve but the memories will always remain..thank you for this blog it has been a treat

Anonymous said...

This is such a heartbreak
That was my second home.

David Apatoff said...

Jeanne-- Thanks very much. This series, and that house, meant a lot to me.

Anonymous-- It's a nice thought. I actually went so far as to look into the process, and my understanding is that the Westport Historic District Commission is unmoved by outsiders who don't contribute to the Westport tax base.

Amy Stef-- I heard from the Fuchs family, which remembers you and shares your fond recollections of those years.

Anonymous no. 2-- Whoever you are, I agree. This is indeed a heartbreak.

David Hoffert said...

I came across 'Illustration Art' about six months ago...then proceeded to read every single entry. It has become one of my favourite blogs. I just recently caught up and you have now outdone yourself with the Tanglewood series. Wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Facebook is good for something! I was reminded of your Fuchs book, and that it was coming out soon, so luckily, I had a little spare cash and went and ordered it just now. Cannot wait, man!

Ken Meyer Jr.

Anonymous said...

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Anne said...

Wonderful post. Thank you. Fuchs was my favorite from that era.... to me he seem to define the era's print medium. Outstanding illustrator

Anonymous said...

just came across your most thorough blog. a treat to find such in depth coverage and appreciation, thank you