Friday, March 20, 2009

Thornton Utz: Family Man

Thornton Utz must have really enjoyed working for Cosmopolitan magazine art director, Robert C. Atherton. He would have been the ideal client for an artist described as "a man who made his own rules, challenged the usual, and defied the ordinary".

Atherton usually handed out multi-image assignments for Cosmo's fiction pieces. Three from a series of five done by Utz for the August 1955 issue are shown below. You've seen several others this week, and they show how Thornton Utz used these opportunities to try many variations of style.

In the November 1957 American Artist article I've been referencing this week, author Ernest W. Watson writes, "He is always doing the unexpected in his painting and nothing daunts him - from employing the assistance of the ceiling-cleaning machine of New York's Grand Central Station to get a down-shot for a Saturday Evening Post cover, to enlisting the aid of the St. Augustine, Florida, Fire Department's hook and ladder for a motel shot to use for another cover."

Watson continues, "Friendly in manner, this smiling, six-foot-three illustrator loves his way of life and seems to enjoy everyone."

"Thornon does his best work from 5:00 to 9:00 A.M. when interruptions are few. After that the telephone starts ringing."

"He's an ardent family man and spends as much time as he can with his wife, Louise, and children, Wendy, sixteen, Merrily, thirteen, and David, eight. There are few places in this world to which his work hasn't taken him, and his photographic collection ... includes such spots as Rome, Paris, Bangkok, and Athens."

"When you live in Florida," says Utz, "your perspective is free of trend influences. This doesn't make a hillbilly of you. I belong to the Society of Illustrators, the Museum of Modern Art, and I subscribe to the best national magazines."

"Honestly, I think the best thing about living and working here is that it allows you to see the forest as well as the trees."

* My Thornton Utz Flickr set.

1 comment:

  1. I'm just coming across your blog as I'm searching for pictures of my grandfather for a television piece. I'm Thornton's granddaughter and I'm a painter myself. What fun to come across all this info and these photos. Thanks!