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

Lionel Gilbert, "American Artist"

Monday, March 24, 2014

Recently, while flipping through some early '50s issues of Collier's magazines, I came upon this beautiful illustration by Lionel Gilbert.

Gilbert01

On the following spread was another exceptional piece by the artist.

Gilbert02

How could work this good have escaped my notice for all these years... and frankly, how could an illustrator of Gilbert's calibre remain so relatively underrepresented in the vast swath of publications in my collection? I have hundreds of magazines from the 1950s but only perhaps a dozen pieces by Lionel Gilbert; almost all of them for Collier's from 1950 - '56.

Gilbert02detail01

Upon further investigation in the back of several early '50s editions of the New York Art Directors Annual, I located Gilbert's name listed among the "American Artists" group of illustrators, represented by Celia, Sidney and Richard Mendelsohn.

AmericanArtists

There is Lionel Gilbert's signature at the very bottom of an impressive list of some true luminaries of the mid-20th century illustration business. The Mendelsohn's clearly had no problem getting in the door at all the biggest publishers because I've seen exponentially more work in my magazine collection by nearly everyone on that list. Why so few assignments for Lionel Gilbert?

Gilbert05

Further research uncovered further revelations: here, as above is a typical Lionel Gilbert piece painted in 1955...

Gilbert03

And here is one painted a decade later in 1965.

Blue abstract with circles

Clearly, something changed dramatically for Gilbert in the space of ten years.

Gilbert04

This week, a look at the art of Lionel Gilbert, with some related biographical information.

Continued tomorrow

* Many thanks to the Carrie Haddad Gallery for allowing me to use some examples of Lionel Gilbert's abstract art from their website.

The gallery next exhibit, entitled "Under the Influence (of the New York School)", features Gilbert's abstract figuratives from the 60s. You can read the press release at this link.

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