Friday, March 05, 2010

Lorraine Fox: A Female Illustrator Your Should Know

I can't imagine any artist more appropriate to feature than Lorraine Fox to cap off this week of launching a new blog about Female Illustrators of the Mid-20th Century. Fox was a true original. Her distinctly personal style of art would alone have set her miles ahead of her contemporaries...

...but even more impressive is that she achieved such success (being regularly published in all the major magazines of the day) while in the company of some of the undisputed giants of 1950s "idealized literal realism" at the Charles E. Cooper studio.

Along with Al Parker and a few others, this 'boys club', comprised of Coby Whitmore, Joe DeMers, Jon Whitcomb and Joe Bowler (not to mention Fox's own husband, Bernie D'Andrea) virtually owned all the visual real estate in "The Seven Sisters" from one month to the next during the 1950s.

Any illustrator - but especially a female illustrator - would have needed tremendous self confidence to not take a back seat to this elite group.

At a time when American beauty was being defined for women by men, Lorraine Fox managed to convince the art directors of some of the country's most prominent publications that her unique voice should also be heard.

Murray Tinkelman, Director of the MFA program in Illustration at the University of Hartford, said of his friend and mentor, "Lorraine lived in... that world of decorative illustration. It wasn't quite cartooning, it wasn't quite narrative illustration, it was a kind of symbolic illustration that depended on folk art as a root source."

"[In spite of having no formal illustration education] I knew enough that what Lorraine was doing was brilliant."

"Anybody could tell what Al Parker did and what Norman Rockwell did was brilliant..."

"... but Lorraine was doing brilliant stuff that didn't depend on the academic foundation of Parker or Rockwell."

When I interviewed Murray for Today's Inspiration I suggested he guest author a week of posts on Lorraine Fox. He sounded very enthusiastic about collaborating with me on something like that. With his help, I hope to bring you a comprehensive look at the life and work of this truely remarkable artist some time soon.

* The scan at top of a Lorraine Fox original is courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

* My Lorraine Fox Flickr set.

* With the inclusion of Lorraine Fox, there are now 15 artists documented on Female Illustrators of the Mid-20th Century.


  1. Lorraine Fox's work is simply amazing. I'm a big fan of her work, as you already well know, Leif. It's great that you're featuring her on your new blog - can't wait to catch up and check it out!

    I've got a few of Lorraine's work in my scans on Flickr:

    Household Magazine cover for Nov. 1952

    Also, I found out that it was Lorraine who did the fantastic two-color pieces in the Better Homes & Garden Decorating Book from 1956. I used her illustrations for a mural I painted for a midcentury furniture & decorating store in Decatur, GA back in '05. See my post about that book and wall HERE.

  2. great inspiration again! Thanks Leif!