Thursday, August 10, 2006

Knee Deep In Art

Unfortunately a number of my co-workers read this blog...that means they’ll know when I play hooky. I took today off and spent it going through the permanent collection at the Society of Illustrators. Cleaning house a bit -- deaccessing a few works that we no longer feel fit the collection’s needs, placing aside items that can use a new frame or a good cleaning, and just being sure that everything is where we think it is. What a treat to be able to spend the day so intimately involved with J. C. Leyendecker, Howard Pyle, Robert McGinnis, Joseph Clement Cole, Leo and Diane Dillon, Vin Di Fate, John Berkey, and the like! As much as possible, I would take a minute to enjoy the work, but, there was something equally exciting about simply working with all those amazing paintings. “Pass me that Cornwell.” “Sure...wait, I just have to move this McGinnis first”....I mean, that’s just cool!

The Society owns about 2000 paintings and drawings. They put together a number of permanent collection shows each year. Some are exhibited in their galleries in New York, others travel around the country to various galleries and schools. Someday I’d like to curate an “adventure” exhibit from the collection -- there are so many great narrative paintings of pirates, shipwrecks, horse chases, and all kinds of swashbuckling antics. It’s still in the daydream phase...but it wouldn’t be too hard to make it happen.


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Harold Anderson

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Joseph Bowler

Towards the end of the day, we came across a stack of WWI posters. The art was amazing but what really floored me was the printing. These things are nearly 100 years old and the color is as vibrant as an original painting done today. Sadly, all I had was my cell phone camera with me to take these shots.
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13 comments:

Anthony Schiavino said...

I absolutely love those old posters. I have books of old poster art and can't get enough of them. There was just such a sense of design back them that I think has been lost down through the years. Maybe it's the fact we have so many choices available now, and canned fonts, so that there's no thinking in what we have to do outside of asking ourselves...serif or sans serif?

We just don't have that design sense anymore. People can't believe my "pulp style" and ask where I've learned things from considering my age. Well along with not thinking people just don't take the time to do decent research even though today it's all right there at the touch of a button!

I've also come across magazines printed in other countries and what people can do overseas on newsprint puts our glossies to shame.

I would have loved to see it all as well!

Irene Gallo said...

It' true, Anthony. It seems the easier it is to do something, the more likely people are willing to trade that off for less-than-best.

Like that printing! I'm telling you, those colors were amazing. It puts all of modern day printing to shame. It must have been amazing to see these posters hanging around railroad station and such...especially in a time before color photography and movies.

Irene Gallo said...

Anthony, I forgot to say, Seth showed me your magazine. GREAT job!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Irene, your idea for a show reminded me of some of the shows that the Andy Warhol Museum here in Pittsburgh has done. What do you think about contacting the director, Tom Sokolowski and floating the idea by him?

Irene Gallo said...

Hi Susan,

That's funny, the Society just aquired a nice Andy Warhol drawing while I was there the other day.

If I ever get my "adventure" show in the can (which seems likely, just not imminent) then I'll look into it. Thanks for the tip! In the meantime, the Society has a number of shows that travel the country throughout the year. I should have them send the Warhol Museum some info on them.
http://www.societyillustrators.org/museum/shows/index.cms

The "Historical Look" exhibit will be at the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design from the end of August until Oct 21.
http://www.pcad.edu/
I saw some of this show while it was being packed up...and I'm jealous it's not hanging in New York!

Anthony Schiavino said...

Thanks on the magazine Irene. I have to battle certain things with about 5 people and departments but in the end I mostly got what I wanted.

Speaking of adventure. I'm doing layout on a new pulp novel (The second Captain Hazzard, and old pulp character brought back), as well as my own pulp. The illustration has just begun on my own and we're hoping to have a cover before a con we're getting a table at in November.

Hopefully I'll be able to pick up some great reprints. You know there might have been a battle of the slicks and the pulps back in the day but I can only imagine how they looked in print. I'm starting to really get into that era.

Maria said...

Put together a display of the art! Make sure you travel to austin to show it off--but heck, I'd be willing to travel to see it. I don't go to a lot of museums or art galleries or the like, but what you describe sounds fabulous! My kind of art.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden said...

World War I-era posters are amazing. Similarly stunning: the color front pages of newspaper sections from about 1890 to 1920. Same kind of fantastic graphic sense, swashbuckling color work, and so forth.

The restaurant Knickerbocker down at 9th St and University Place has a good selection of these framed and on display. Worth going out of your way to see.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Aargh! The Pennsylvania College of Art and Design is in Lancaster -- that's too far for a roadtrip for this mom of two young'uns who're still too young to really appreciate art. (Comic book art, on the other hand...)

Unfortunately. That's the sort of thing I really dig and draw a lot of inspiration from.

Josh Jasper said...

I really hope there's a movement to digitize those WWI posters and make them availible to the public. Archiving this art is important.

lyon said...

so completely and totally jealous.

Irene Gallo said...

Patrick - Thanks for the tip. Illustration AND food - I’m so there.

Josh - The Society hired a photographer to digitally shoot the entire collection. These posters will be included, I’m sure. Until now, all we’ve had is a rather cumbersome slide archive. The plan is to make the entire collection available on the Society’s website. I’m sure it will take a while, as is the nature of most largely volunteer run non-profits, but it will be very exciting when it finally gets together. In fact, there is a big push to make the collection more available in general - more exhibits at the Society, more traveling exhibits, this digital library, and more printed materials.

Anthony - send me a jpg and link when your pulp is ready! Which convention are you going to.

Howard (Lyon) - New York living! Actually, any member of the Society of Illustrators can volunteer to do just about anything they are willing to see through. The place has a skeleton staff that keeps things moving, but it’s up to the membership to really dictate what the Society will be and what it will offer. Anyone with an interest should join and jump in!

Carl V. said...

What a glorious day! I'm afraid the moment I saw a McGinnis I would've been lost the entire day!