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Celebrating Illustration, Design, Cartoon and Comic Art of the Mid-20th Century

Bernie Fuchs... “A Guiding Light” part 3

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

* Note: This first attempt at today's post will remain so as not to lose comments already posted on Tom's Bernie Fuchs article presented above. ~ L


6 comments

  1. Tom-

    Do you have a sample of that truck ad? Or does anyone else out there reading this post? I'd love to see it.

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  2. Charlie Allen3:28 PM

    TOM.....Thanks so much for your blog and your contribution to the Fuchs story. I had clipped gobs of Fuchs illustrations in the old days....but in this case, only recognized the first example you posted....I had never seen the others. In addition to Fuchs' infinite creativity, the artist produced an almost unbelievable quantity and volume of work. What an age of creative excellence we lived through!!

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  3. Daniel, I only have a b/w version that I will scan and send to Leif.

    Thanks Charlie, only the first part of my comments are showing up, due to technical difficulty.. hope the rest shows up later today.. stay tuned. Yes we did live and work in a special time of illustration history. As the old saying goes, "I wish I knew then, what I know now". ;-)

    Tom Watson

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  4. Chad Sterling5:21 PM

    Extraordinary.Just outstanding.I can't imagine anyone being able to take this style of illustration any further.If I had been an illustrator then I'd have felt exhilarated... yet profoundly depressed at the likelihood of never being able to equal this standard of work.

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  5. For Daniel and others who are curious about that "truck ad," I believe you can find it in the Society of Illustrators Annual for 1959 (image 142). I actually talked with Bernie about that ad, because I had the same question that Tom did: did Bernie do the technical painting of the truck, as well as all the people and activity surrounding it? Here is what he said:

    "I was 26 or 27 when I painted this, and yes, I painted the truck and everything else in this picture. I'm trying to remember whether they had one of the older guys in the studio touch up some of the chrome on the fender after I was done. Chrome was pretty hard to get right. But I don't think so. It was a long time ago. Later I specialized in people and backgrounds, and the cars themselves would be painted by artists who were more capable than I was. My art director submitted this painting to the Society of Illustrators competition without even telling me. I had no idea there was such a thing until he came to me and told me that the jury had picked my painting to be in the show."

    One other thing about the picture of the truck. You'll see Bernie straining to integrate the truck into its surroundings without blocking the truck itself. He has a couple of children in front of the truck partially obscuring one of the wheels. Up until that time, nobody had ever dared to obscure part of the vehicle; there was a very rigid code in Detroit that you never, ever covered up the merchandise. It was cast iron thinking policed by rigid ad agencies (much the way that movie posters are micro managed now.) Shortly after he did this truck painting, Bernie tried painting a car with a grown man standing in front of part of it. When the sales rep from the art studio delivered the job to the ad agency, the client not only rejected it but threw the painting on the floor and yelled at the sales rep that Bernie was a real "prima donna" for trying to paint a man in front of the car.

    Perhaps that partially explains why Bernie felt he needed a little more artistic freedom than he was able to get doing paintings for GM in Detroit.

    Tom, I am really enjoying your descriptions of how Bernie's work was perceived when it came out, and your thoughtful discussion of the quality of his art. Thanks so much.

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  6. Thanks David, for those very interesting true details about Bernie Fuchs' early years in Detroit and the shedding light on the truck illo. Also, knowing that in real life he was such a great guy, makes his great talent even more amazing and inspiring for me. I spent time talking to Al Parker and John Clymer in their studios many years ago, and they were also exceptionally polite, gracious and hospitable to me and my wife, in spite of the fact that I approached them as a complete stranger.

    Tom Watson

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