Friday, March 03, 2006

Looking at Girls

Over at Illustration Art Blog, David Apatoff has posted a wonderful tribute to Playboy cartoonist/painter Erich Sokol's work. David has a real knack for locating the perfect quote to drive home a point and he's found a great one for his Sokol post that I'm going to outright steal:

'John Ciardi once said, “Modern art is what happens when painters stop looking at girls and persuade themselves they have a better idea.” '

When you strip away the trappings of genre fiction, be they spy novels, hard-boiled detectives, westerns or whatever else, what becomes clear is that Robert McGinnis is a painter who never stopped looking at girls.

Now, some might retort that McGinnis' problem is that he never looked at girls closely enough (or perhaps he's been looking at them through one of those elongating fun-house mirrors). But setting aside matters of personal taste, there's no denying that McGinnis loves women.

I'm still no closer to understanding why Robert McGinnis has achieved popularity far beyond so many of his contemporaries who share his passion for the female form. The answer to that question no doubt lies beyond the realm of objective analysis. People like certain works of art because... they like them.

Art's like that.

A final thanks to TI list member Ken Steacy for supplying this week's images. Be sure to check out Ken's new site for an incredible selection of art and sketch books by current and vintage illustrators.


  1. Leif, I can see it now... there's a great market out there for a book about illustrators, organized by each illustrator's fixation on a different female body type. McGinnis with his weird, elongated figures-- Frazetta with his obsession with immense posteriors--Henry Raleigh with his unnatural emphasis on bare shoulders and backs (showing the "debutante slouch")-- Jeff Jones' fascination with women in advanced stages of pregnancy-- Maxfield Parrish's boyish looking nymphettes-- every male illustrator seemed to see the female form through the lens of his own personal predilections, and to paint them again and again that way.

    I suppose it's no coincidence that for much of the 20th century, art was the only quasi-legitimate profession where a guy could look at naked girls all day long.

    Back to this book, I tell you, it would sell a million copies. And you're just the man to do it!

  2. I think I have one of the carson brown pics by Robert McGinnis, here: