Friday, July 17, 2009

Al Parker: "each of his characters... a believable human being."

The January 1952 issue of American Artist magazine contains "a demonstration presented courtesy of the Famous Artists Course, Westport, Connecticut." The accompanying commentary is provided by Henry C. Pitz:

"While it is true that Parker has prepared a set of lessons for instruction by correspondence, he has not been assiduous in spreading his gospel; he is not a crusader, nor is he disciple-hungry. So it must come as a surprise to find himself the head of a dominant school of illustration."

"Most of his imitators... have neither his ingratiating skill as a draftsman nor his inexhaustible enthusiasm for finding a fresh solution. Least of all do they have the human warmth that makes each of his characters a believable human being."

"[Al Parker] has never been spoiled and ... has transmuted the enthusiasms of his Midwestern youth into a pictorial language that has meaning for millions of Americans."

(Click the image for a larger version to read the text)

* the Modern Graphic History Library at Washington University in St. Louis is currently hosting an Al Parker exhibit, Double Exposure: Al Parker’s Illustrations, from Model to Magazine. which "explores the art-making process of magazine illustrator Al Parker. The display features original artwork and tear sheets from popular magazines published in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. The illustrations are presented alongside photographic studies taken by Parker, depicting women, men, and children from various viewpoints and poses. Through the juxtaposition of these images, we catch a glimpse of Parker's creative process, from his compositions captured in photos to his interpretations realized in print."

The exhibit runs from July 6th to September 29th, 2009 at the Olin Library, Washington University in St. Louis

* Many thanks to Marvin Friedman for the gift of Al Parker tear sheets from which the image at the top of this post is scanned.

* My Al Parker Flickr set.


  1. This is a wonderful show. If you are in the area of St. Louis it is well worth the time.

  2. i can't wait to go see the show - i go to school at WashU so I'm checking it out the day I get back!

  3. Wonderful blog monsieur peng.
    On seeing mr parkers process I am drawn to the pre detail colour work. The part before he adds the detailing. The tonal values say it all for me.