Thursday, March 16, 2006

Parker au Natural

Al Parker was no stranger to illustrating the nude female form. He's probably my favourite illustrator from the 50's... but in my opinion his naked ladies leave something to be desired.

Where Coby Whitmore or Mike Ludlow are at their best depicting female sensuality, Parker seems incapable of idealizing the fairer sex. His interpretation always strikes me as being just a bit too firmly rooted in reality.

But maybe I'm being unfairly critical. Other artists excelled at painting women; "the kind men like". Keeping in mind that Parker's nudes appeared in women's magazines, perhaps his more realistic representation of the female form made his women more relateable for readers of those magazine.

Al Parker's take on the female body might be considered a more progressive interpretation because he did not 'glamourize' his women. Did Parker in fact excel at painting women; "the kind women like"?


  1. I've always thought of Parkers work in the same mold as Fawcett's. Wonderful draftsmen, ooutstanding illustrators. Unlike Whitmore or Whitcomb, they didn't as you say "glamorize" anything. In that sense one could say that they were ahaed of thier time. Or following a different artistic muse, a more natural looking muse.

  2. Hey, Leif-- You may think that men aren't as interested in Parker's nudes but I am mighty darn interested in what happens in that story with the woman pulling the window shade down. What's going on there?

  3. Stan;

    I completely agree. As has been discussed here before, different strokes for different folks - but I would say for all his talent Parker was not capable of doing a glamour-girl look. And most likely didn't want to!

  4. David;

    the rest of this story is in my Al Parker Flickr set - at least I think the rest is there. If you check for this image and then the ones that immediately follow it, you should be able to read the rest!

  5. Anonymous9:13 PM

    Nuts to all that. Maaaaybe his portrayl of the female form was less effective for advertisement, and perhaps he was just ahead of his time, but I don't think his nudes leave a damn thing to be desired. I'm probably biased, being an artist, but a realistic depiction IS the kind I like. After all, I like real women, not overly feminized caricatures.

  6. That's cool, anonymous. :-)
    I took pains to begin this post with "in my opinion" because I knew not everyone would agree with me and I'm no authority.

    But in my opinion, having looked at a whole bunch of Parker's work, he is unique among magazine illustrators of the time in his ( how to put this? ) unglamourized? unidealized? interpretation of the female form - and nowhere is this more apparent than when he paints nude (or nearly nudes) women.

    That may be fine with you, me and any number of other artists but in the context of the times I thought it was worth making note of - especially considering his stature as a leading figure in the illustration business during that period.

    Parker lead the way for so many other artists... they imitated him, were inspired by him, out-right copied him - but he did not influence them in how to draw women. His interpretation is singularly unique.