While I'd seen and enjoyed Paul Nonnast's work in various 1950's magazines over the last few years, it wasn't until I came across his contributions to the October 1953 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine that I really came to appreciate his work.
What a beautiful, sensitive line Nonnast was capable of delineating.
I'm sure he spent far more time on the double page spread for this story (one article describes him spending five 14-hour work days on a typical full colour illustration) - and it is a beautifully composed and evocative piece...
... but its his unpretentious, spot-on-accurate line drawings that really blow me away.
Once again I must sing the praises of Robert C. Atherton, Cosmo's art editor, for choosing the right illustrator for this assignment and allowing him to play to his strengths. The story of a 4-year old boy and his injured father struggling to survive alone on an isolated beach and Nonnast's spare linear ink drawings are a perfect match.
There is a kind of organic, reportage-like quality to his drawings, like they were done on that beach to accompany notes jotted in a diary. They transport us to that time and place. You can almost hear the waves crashing and the gulls crying...
Nonnast gives us this tiny, simple drawing of the father and son's hands as his closing image. The old adage 'less is more' comes immediately to mind. After the tense life and death circumstances of the story draw to a happy conclusion, this iconic image, which probably took the artist no time at all to draw, speaks volumes and symbolizes so much.
By not presenting a complex, highly-rendered scene that would have distanced the viewer from the experience of the characters, Nonnast allows each of us to imagine ourselves in their place (who hasn't experienced the beauty and vulnerability of a young child's hand placed in yours?), creating a much more emotional, personal bond.
My Paul Nonnast Flickr set.