Thursday, June 15, 2017


Illustrator Joe Ciardello is well known for his excellent series of drawings of jazz musicians.   My favorite is this marvelous depiction of James  Oscar Smith, who worked magic on the electric organ.

Ciardiello's picture is an art form somewhere between drawing and music.

Vesalius would not recognize the bones in those hands, but their fluidity perfectly captures Smith's music.

A higher and more insightful level of drawing than mere accuracy.

Similarly, those arms are a graphic equivalent of jazz:

Contrast the light touch of Ciardiello's sprightly linework with the dense black background and you have a powerful composition.  But Ciardiello doesn't end it there.  He energizes the solid black with little jolts of color....

...which, combined with those glowing blue shadows...

... makes the entire picture as electric as Jimmy Smith's organ.

Ciardiello does a lot of literary and cultural figures but he seems to have a special affinity for musicians.  Check out his brilliant drawings of B.B. King and Rahsaan, both of them lovely (but I can't reproduce them here because this series is about one lovely drawing).


MORAN said...

Awesome line.

Anonymous said...

Whoa --- definitely more dynamic than Hogarth's Dynamic Jazz Hands .

Anonymous said...

I wondered when you were going to get to Ciardiello. He did some excellent drawings for the Times.


kev ferrara said...

Wonderful drawing. Love Ciardello's work.

Anonymous said...

Roland Kirk…nuff said!

Lia said...

The lines in this Ciardello's work are loose, it gives the sense of movement. The exageration in the hand makes it feel that he's really playing.
I like that!

David Apatoff said...

MORAN-- Yup, I agree.

Anonymous-- Hah! Hogarth's dynamic jazz hands play "chopsticks" and still hit sour notes.

JSL-- Yes, Ciardiello has done excellent drawings on a range of topics. He's one of those artists who deserves more attention. But I think he has a special affinity for musical subjects.

David Apatoff said...

kev ferrara-- Me too.

Anonymous-- Yes, Roland Kirk's widow is reputed to own that drawing.

Lia-- Exactly right.We are living in an era where so much distortion in drawing is a result of sloth, carelessness and a lack of skill. It's a pleasure to see an artist who knows what they're doing and intentionally distorts to enhance.

ericfowler said...

Indeed Lia As an instructor in the Art College world , its a task to get young aspiring illustrators to embrace this idea.
Fuchs, Cober, Ciardiello, make music with line. Hell Arthur Rackham.