Monday, January 25, 2021



Daniel Bennett Schwartz had a dual career as a fine artist and an "artist-reporter." 

As a fine artist, he had over fifteen solo exhibitions at galleries and museums in New York, and his work resides in the permanent collections of the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, and several other important institutions. As an artist-reporter, he was given journalistic projects of national significance, such as covering the My Lai massacre trial for Life Magazine and the "New Wave" in Paris for Esquire Magazine.  

He lived with Mississippi river pilots for an article chronicling their lives.   


He was also assigned to chronicle the production of a television drama for CBS.


But much of what he did as an "artist-reporter" was to imagine and reconstruct crime scenes or political events for which there was no camera present.  The following are illustrations for a series about flawed drug busts in New York City:

Schwartz's illustrations about the Watergate scandal helped readers visualize and understand the complex web of events. 

He had a realistic drawing style in the tradition of Silverman and Dinerstein but his fine art orientation added an interesting extra flourish to even the most technical subjects. 


MORAN said...

The man in the phone booth is awesome.

kev ferrara said...

Very, very nice.

chris bennett said...

These are wonderful David, thank you for posting them. I have the book 'Portrait of the Artist, Running' (recommended by you on this blog I believe) charting the genesis of a single painting, where everything leading to the final state showed such exhilarating promise until something happens at the finishing line. In my view Daniel Schwartz had a formal and compositional sense that was up there with the greatest artists of any era, and every one of the images you posted attest to that. But, he lived in the wrong times. That is to say; the existential doubt that began some 130 years ago meant he was starved of an aesthetic vessel, a mythology into which he could wholeheartedly invest his imagination. One feels the Post Modernist zeitgeist pulling and snapping at his ankles as he valiantly struggles, clutching his abundant gifts, to push his art to reach the promised land of consummation and wholeness. Yet undermined by concessions, conscious or subconscious, to modernist relevance.
I think it is the main obstacle to any talent born into the jaws of this contemporary culture, and a great amount of effort has to be redirected by any poet to even have a chance of circumventing it.

David Apatoff said...

MORAN-- Yes, note how the only clearly delineated features in that picture are a portion of the phone dial and the brim of a hat, yet we know exactly what's going on.

kev ferrara-- Thanks, I agree.

chris bennett-- I agree that Schwartz was born at the wrong time. Seven years ago I sought him out and visited him in his apartment in Greenwich Village, New York. It was a large, gracious place from a bygone era, filled with over a hundred substantial oil paintings on canvas, lining every wall and stacked one on top of the other. Beautiful work, some of it very distinctive and innovative within the framework of his style. It was clear that the elderly artist continued working long after the audience waiting to receive his pictures began to evaporate. The work was stacking up at the end of the assembly line, yet the artist held true to what he knew. After a while he made a living as a private art teacher to a small and shrinking group of devoted fans. I tried contacting Schwartz and his wife again for this post and their email addresses were no longer operative.

Vanderwolff said...

Chris Bennett explains the underlying causes far better than I could, but the overwhelming feeling I get is that any unbound visionary flights from Daniel Schwartz have been grounded by a contractual guardrail--one that allows some genuinely brilliant ideas to seep through the editorial slats, but ultimately leave one hungering for a grander tableau. Perhaps his fine art paintings fully realized his undeniable and massive talent, a talent so skillfully melded with deceptive technical ease. I found a few samples of his fine art and they are impressive yet somehow---perhaps due to not having seen enough of his non-commercial work----even within the guardrails, his magazine illustrations hint at grander impulses still. But what an amazing presence in print or gallery, nonetheless.

Manqueman said...

George Whitmore was not involved in a drug bust but was framed by NYPD for a multiple murder. See,
A book on the frame was written by a New York Times reporter, Selwyn Raab. The book "inspired" the TV series Kojak. The book was adapted for a TV movie that after the fact became the pilot. I enjoyed the show; the "inspired by" credit got me to read the book.

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