Monday, October 15, 2007

Atherton Challenges Utz

Three cheers for Cosmopolitan magazine's 1950's "Executive Editor of Art", Robert C. Atherton. Not only did he clearly love illustration (he rarely employed photography for Cosmo's editorial content), he seems to have chosen to challenge the top illustrators (and gifted new-comers) of the day to explore their potential... to push their personal boundaries... to give him something just a little bit unexpected.

Take, for instance, this group of illustrations by Thornton Utz.

Utz has long been one of my favourite 50's illustrators and he often employed an energetic "looseness" in his work - in spite of his old school, "Sundblom Circle" roots. Take a look at this piece to see what I mean.

But when I saw the pieces Thornton Utz did for Atherton - not just for this article, but for several others as well - I was stunned. Shown without a credit line, I would never have guessed these illustrations were by Utz.

After last week's Cosmo piece by Lucia Lerner and today's pieces by Utz, you may have already guessed that I recently acquired a nice little stack of 1950's Cosmopolitan magazines. I have to tell you; taken as a whole, its been quite a treat to see what Robert C. Atherton accomplished while art directing the magazine. He must surely have been a favourite client for almost any illustrator to hear from. Because a call from Atherton didn't just mean a job was on the board...

... it meant the gauntlet had been thrown down.

* More pieces by this artist in my Thornton Utz Flickr set.


  1. They are great I like especially the last one). Thank you for showing this.

  2. Bob-O8:37 PM

    Really nice work. I particularly like the last one. The dramatic lighting gives me the feeling of the stories of James M. Cain & William Faulkner.

  3. Thanks for your comments! I'm glad you're enjoying this work by Utz - and of course, that last piece is so very impactful... its impossible not to find it impressive. :-)