Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Robert Meyers and the Wild, Wild West

There are so many wonderful 50's illustrators who've never received their due. I'm at a loss to explain why I've never showcased Robert Meyers' work before, because he is one of my favourites of that unrecognized group.

Unfortunately information on Meyers is really lacking. He isn't listed in Walt Reed's Illustrator in America and askart.com doesn't have a biography for him. And a Google Image Search turns up only an earlier post I did on this blog during a week long look at illustrating water.

But Meyers was a very regular contributor to The Saturday Evening Post during the 50's... and among his many story illustrations that have made me stop and say "wow!" is this cool Western genre series which, incidentally, sports one of the greatest title type faces I've ever come across.

Meyers' listing on askart.com includes several examples of his later work, all of which are Western themed, suggesting that Meyers may have been part of that great exodus of illustrators to the South West during the 60's. When magazine work dried up in the early 60's, many illustrators moved to places like New Mexico and did "fine art" gallery paintings featuring Western motifs. But I'm just speculating here...

This week, let's take a look at the work of Robert Meyers - and if you care to take a closer look at today's images (and a few more already archived) just go to my Robert Meyers Flickr set.


  1. Amazing art. I stared for minutes at the nocturnal image with the three guys - really involving atmosphere, great depth and tones. The others are very good as well.
    Thanks for sharing, Leif!

  2. Leif just contacted me about Robert W. "Bob" Meyers. In 2006, we wrote our book entitled "Robert W. "Bob" Meyers, Artist of the South Fork."

    One of Leif's first comments to me in his email was he understood Meyers was killed by a neighbor. Our research for our book elapsed over almost nine years and visiting with many family members. The public instead of remembering the man and his work could only or would only talk about his murder. Initially the family was very reluctant to talk with us for they were sure we had the same questions. I repeatedly assured them our purpose was to talk about the artist and his work and not his death.

    A brief discussion about his death. From the basic information I think it best left as an accident without any real answers.

    Meyers was an illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post from approximately 1950 to 1962. This was the last era of the pulp industry but still with heavy implications for the illustrators. For example, when the illustrator received their check for a particular work from Saturday Evening Post, they gave up many rights. First, when they endorsed the check they gave up all rights to the copyright and not for a one time use only. Even today the Saturday Evening Post contends they have the copyright even if one has the original. The illustrations shown on this site are illegal and in violation.

    Bob Meyers discovered the South Fork of the Shoshone River in the mid 1950's while out to Wyoming on vacation. He was just a man living one hundred years ago or more. He was the classic illustrator for although he used a camera for reference he could draw like no other person. In 1970 they inducted him into the Cowboy Artists of America but he was unable to go to the annual shows as he died in the fall of 1970.

    I think the one thought I would like to leave is about the artist and not what happened to the artist. For example, in our gallery when showing a work by Meyers, I would like the viewer to talk about the painting itself and not about his demise.

    Feel free to contact me if you should have any questions.

    My best to you,

    Gary Temple
    The Meadowlark Gallery
    118 North 29th Street
    Billings, Montana 59101

  3. Many thanks, Gary, for your prompt reply - and for providing so much additional information about Robert Meyers.

    While the circumstances surrounding Meyers' death are by no means the focal point of what we hope to learn on this blog, the purpose here is to learn not just about the artwork but the lives of the artists as well. It is that knowledge that makes the artwork so relateable and for the great many of us who are graphic arts professionals, so meaningful.

    *Incidentally, though I hope never to have to go to court over the legality of my use of images on this blog, I have done a little research into the matter and I believe the amount and quality of the images seen here fall under the "Fair Use" category of the copyright laws.

    Thanks again!

  4. In response to Mr. Temple's comments I can attest in Leif's behalf that he has never resorted to rumor or the sensational in his posts about the work and lives of classic illustrators, forgotten or not. As everyone who has read Today's Inspiration knows, knows Leif treats his subjects with the utmost respect. I just hope Mr. Temple realizes (and acknowledges) just what a service Leif has done to Robert Meyers' artistic legacy by posting these terrific (and legal) images for all to see.
    Thanks Leif.

  5. I know this blog was originally written a while back, but I decided to do some research on a painting that I have had for years. It was given to me by an avid collector and has an attached letter on the back typed and signed by Helen Meyers, Robert W Meyer's wife. However, it seems to be a rare piece as it does not depict the western genre. In fact it is a painting of three golfers and a caddy on a putting green. The collector had to me that copies of the painting were in country clubs across the nation. I am curious to find out what people who are familiar with his paintings think?