Thursday, February 08, 2007

What A Difference A Decade Makes

Scroll back down to the 1952 De Mers pieces I showed you on Tuesday and compare them to these three from 1962. What a difference a decade makes!

In Part 1 of his Illustration magazine article on the Cooper Studio, author Neil Shapiro quotes Don Crowley about a trend that emerged among the Cooper artists in the late 50's: "...they just weren't happy doing illustrations any more. They all wanted to be fine artists."

Perhaps here we are seeing De Mers' own exploration of illustration tinged with a fine arts approach.

These pieces can be seen at full size in my Joe De Mers Flickr set.


  1. It was definitely is a conscious effort to keep up with the new experimental art boys that were coming into high vogue. As a fan of Joe's earlier work, I can't say I'm thrilled his work went in that direction. Guess he had to do what he had to do to stay relevant in a hip and stylized culture.

  2. That's a valid point, Les - if in fact De Mers was doing what he felt he had to do. But according to Neil's article in Illustration, Murray Tinkleman taking all the Cooper guys to Reuben Tam's art classes at the Brooklyn Museum really inspired them to express their fine arts side. This could be not what De Mers felt he had to do, but what he really wanted to do. After a decade of formulaic romance illustration, maybe he felt like this was an exciting personal expression?

  3. As I've said before, I've always thought of DeMers as the most painterly of the Cooper glamour artists. And as Les says, it does seem as though his stylistic shift in the 60's was a response to trends in the illustration field. Like Les, I'm more of a fan of his earlier work. But even within the sketchier, more free form imagery of this period, which became a kind of cliche after a while, his stuff stands out.

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