Drawing New Conclusions about Illustration Art: Despite High Visibility, Low Price-Points and Mass Appeal, Illustration Art Is Still under Many Collectors' Radar

By Sherman, Jenny | Art Business News, June 2004 | Go to article overview

Drawing New Conclusions about Illustration Art: Despite High Visibility, Low Price-Points and Mass Appeal, Illustration Art Is Still under Many Collectors' Radar


Sherman, Jenny, Art Business News


"I feel very comfortable predicting that art historians 50 years from now ... will look back upon the illustrators as the great American artists of the second half of the 20th century." So said author Tom Wolfe in an interview conducted by illustrator C.F. Payne and posted on the Illustrators' Partnership of America's Web site.

Andy Warhol would probably turn in his grave at the thought. So would Lichtenstein, Picasso, Pollack--names that art aficionados and dilettantes have fawned over for decades. But Wolfe is not alone in his prediction. Many in the industry not only see contemporary art perceptibly shifting away from abstract expressionism and back to representational, figurative formats, but point to a resurgent interest in artwork done by illustrators as heralding the change. Even influential institutions have reacted to the trend; just over two years ago, for instance, New York's Guggenheim Museum hosted "Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People."

Still, the illustration art niche has had obstacles to overcome. Critics often snub their noses at the plebian appeal of illustration art, and galleries can disregard artists who list illustration experience on their resumes. Most disturbing is the decrease in the publishing and advertising markets' appetite for original illustrated artwork in recent years. Will the nascent interest by the fine-art community help illustration art regain its former glory and a newfound respect among collectors?

Illustrating Differences

To many, the most discernable difference between illustration art and fine art is that, while both combine subject matter with design, subject matter is the primary focus of illustration.

"In painting, design takes precedence and subject matter is secondary," said Randall Enos, a Connecticut-based illustrator who, after a 48-year career, curated his first gallery show: "Illustrating the Sea: America's foremost illustrators take on nautical subjects," hosted by The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Conn., this past spring. "Georgia O'Keefe said she hated flowers but painted them because they were cheaper than artist models and don't move," Enos said. "Cezanne did oranges because they were there. 'Whistler's Mother' is not called that, it's 'Composition In Gray and Black.'"

Another fundamental difference is that illustrators create a piece for an assignment. "In the painting world, ideally, artists do not satisfy clients, they satisfy themselves," Enos said. "With illustration, we have to tell a story quickly with no underlying meanings, whereas in paintings there are levels of meaning, layers of meaning."

That doesn't mean that illustrators can't apply their particular styles to assignments. In fact, it's an artist's signature style and creative flair that makes him sought after. Norman Rockwell's renderings were so popular that he appeared with Jack Parr on the "Tonight Show." Other notable illustrators from the past include Seymour Chwast, who revolutionized the look of illustration in the 1950s by integrating type with his images on book jackets; Tomi Ungerer and R.O. Blechman were also very influential, as was Jack Davis, whose expressive, cartoon style in the pages of Mad Magazine was emulated by a generation of cartoonists.

Today, as many traditional markets for illustrators dry up, a number of artists have either moved into galleries as fine artists or the realm of children's books. R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, Mass., not only shows the artwork of many of the best children's book illustrators, but represents more than 30 illustration artists, including Barry Muser, Jane Dyer, Maurice Sendak, E.B. Lewis, Mordicai Gerstein and the estate of Dr. Seuss.

"We, I believe, are one of the pioneers of handling illustration art," said gallery owner and founder Rich Michelson. "The business has grown exponentially over the past 15 years or so. When we started, illustration art was ghettoized, in a sense, and not considered fine art. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Drawing New Conclusions about Illustration Art: Despite High Visibility, Low Price-Points and Mass Appeal, Illustration Art Is Still under Many Collectors' Radar
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.