Thursday, November 23, 2006

Magazine Illustration: Flimsy and Impermanent

The list of advertising and editorial clients that sought out Dean Cornwell during the 20's and 30's is as long and as highly placed as any illustrator could hope for. But by the 1940's, Cornwell was becoming disenchanted with magazine illustration. It was his ambition to leave his mark on society and to that end he chose to pursue mural painting.

We'll look at that aspect of his career tomorrow, but its interesting to note that Cornwell returned time and again to advertising and editorial illustration because it paid well and he needed the money. This in spite of the fact that by then he was troubled by the "impermanence and flimsiness" of work done in that field.

In the 1942 article in American Artist, interviewer Ernest W. Watson had this to say about Cornwell's illustrations: Dean Cornwell's illustrations are invariably painted in oil. But he does not recommend this medium for present-day illustration. It is not suited, he points out, to the type of work editors are now demanding. For one thing, oil lacks the wide range of values and brilliancy of color offered by watercolor, particularly by the powerful aniline colors used so much today. It is all a matter of keeping up with the times. The radio, movies, rotograure and picture magazines - indeed the very tempo of modern life - have changed the whole aspect of illustration.
*My thanks to René Milot and Dominic Bugatto for providing some of today's images. You can find all of this week's images, some at larger sizes, in my Dean Cornwell Flickr set.

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