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

Beth and Joe Krush: "... a most happy and unusual combination of two very gifted persons..."

Wednesday, October 02, 2013


Just as her husband Joe often worked on his own projects, so did Beth Crush.

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When Henry Pitz wrote about the Krushs in the March 1952 issue of American Artist magazine, he described the young couple as "a most happy and unusual combination of two very gifted persons who have a great many common interests and a common goal: to produce fine illustration. But they have separate and unmistakable personalities. Each has certain individual inclinations which are respected by the other. Beth loves and knows animals, small children, and green growing things."

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"Joe is knowledgeable about older boys, sports, costume and mechanical things."

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"Both draw unusually well. Each has an exceptional sense of design. Beth's pictures have a charming and loveable quality that reaches the hearts of her child audiences."

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"Joe's pictures have swing and vigor, fitted to teenagers and adults. Both think primarily in line."

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And so it might have gone for Beth and Joe Krush; two talents joined in matrimony and working alongside each other - but separately - for the length of their two careers. In fact, that had been their original intention. But because of the happy accident of one or the other needing help with an overwhelming deadline, the Krushs began working together. There was something magical in that collaboration...

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... and their editors liked it very much.

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Like Alice and Martin Provensen, another famous illustrator couple that collaborated on many children's books throughout their careers, Beth and Joe Krush developed a system of sharing the work to play off each other's strengths.

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Beth explained: usually they would pick the incidents and talk over the staging together.

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Then, Joe would do the first composition and perspective sketch; and Beth would rework that, adding her two cents and looking up costumes, furniture, plants, animals, and people.

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Most often Joe did the final rendering in his own decorative line. (The Krushs' workflow description adapted from the Joe and Beth Krush Papers)

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If ever there was a book that demonstrates the effectiveness of Beth and Joe Krush's skillful line art collaborations, it's this one - The Magic Circle - published in 1952, the same year coincidentally as Henry C. Pitz's article on the couple in American Artist. Let's enjoy some more illustrations from this volume...

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Pitz emphasized that Beth and Joe always exchanged encouraging words and critiqued each other's work and Beth qualified that both artists were proud of their own work and while they enjoyed their collaborations, they also enjoyed doing projects entirely on their own.

3 comments

  1. Never heard of them before. Their work seems to be excellent through and through from the tiny doodle spots to the covers. Thanks for showcasing them? Wow!

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  2. "Both draw unusually well. Each has an exceptional sense of design." That nails it!

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  3. Virginia Rinkel6:06 PM

    Interesting line work. One of my past teachers would have liked to see more variation of line, emphasizing bolder lines, but this seems to be the pattern for this time frame, not only in Beth and Joe Krush's work, but for many others in this time period. Didn't know them, but thanks for sharing such excellently drawn pictures.

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