Friday, June 30, 2017

The Life and Art of Bernie Fuchs

Illustrators from what has been termed the Golden Age will likely always be remembered. Titans like Rockwell, Flagg, and Leyendecker are shoo-ins for that group of course and there are quite a few others who deserve inclusion. Many lived and worked from the end of World War II into the late 20th century. Arguably, the best of them was Bernie Fuchs.

Mr. Fuchs, who died in 2009, had an amazing drawing talent and a keen eye, but it was his painterly handling that always attracted me. He made pictures of everything from automobiles to sports stars to presidential portraits. He even did a series of U.S. postage stamps depicting folk singers. During his lifetime he was revered by his fellows and received virtually every award given for illustration. Now David Apatoff, whose blog Illustration Art is a particular favorite, has published a big beautiful book about Mr. Fuchs, available only from Illustrated Press. (You can buy the book through Amazon, but the order will be fulfilled by Illustrated Press.) It is well worth the price of $44.95.

The Life and Art of Bernie Fuchs is a gorgeous 240 page book, lavishly illustrated with the enormous output of an illustrator's entire career. The images are all in color and many are full pages or even spread across the fold. Mr. Apatoff provides a biographical introduction, outlining how Mr. Fuchs became an artist instead of a trumpet player--he lost three fingers of his right hand--and eventually reached several career peaks, including being named “Artist of the Year” by the Artists Guild of New York at age 30 and the youngest ever inducted into the Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1975.

Mr. Fuchs had a gimlet eye for drawing and a gift with line that has rarely been matched. But it was his painterly approach that always attracted me. The cover of Mr. Apatoff's book is a perfect example of the shimmering style of Mr. Fuchs' paintings. As a working artist, I wish some preparatory works and progressive images were included, but that's a minor wish.

Herewith, a few of my personal favorites by Mr. Fuchs. Many of my favorites are sports images, but he was equally adept at portraiture and landscape. In effect, a lot of his golf illustrations were golfers against a landscape. His handling of light and color were informed, no doubt, by photography and so continue to have resonance for this century's viewers.

This is a book to buy, examine, savor, and keep.



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