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

Lionel Gilbert; Some Biographical Details

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lionel Gilbert was born in Newark, New Jersey,in 1912. The biographical information at the Carrie Haddad Gallery tells us he "fell in love with art at an early age [and] began his training when he was 12 in the Saturday children’s program of the Newark School of Fine & Industrial Art in 1924."Gilbert graduated in 1929 and moved to France, where he studied in Paris with Suzanne Valadon at the Academy Grand Chaumiere.

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"The young artist returned to the US in 1938 and like many artists living during the Great Depression, Gilbert found that the best way to make ends meet was to become employed by the nation’s W.P.A program, creating large murals in many public buildings in the US. During WWII, he was sent to England as an official U.S. Air Force artist to portray various aspects of Air Force life."

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My search of the Air Force Art Collection website turned up two small, poor quality images of Lionel Gilbert paintings, as well as some additional biographical details which may explain why there seems to be so few story illustration by the artist. Apparently Gilbert worked on "advertising illustrations for TWA, Canada Dry, Arrow Shirts, Burlington Mills, Lipton Soups, etc."

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Lionel Gilbert may very well have focused his efforts on the more lucrative (but typically anonymous) ad assignments that were abundantly available to illustrators in those days.

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That would explain why story illustrations by Gilbert are so relatively rare, in spite of his being associated with the high profile 'American Artists' group of illustrators during the 1950s. Above, for example, is an unsigned TWA ad from Collier's from the same period as when Gilbert was active. Could this be his work?

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We'll probably never know. The fact is, there were so many talented illustrators working in such similar realistic styles that unless the work was signed or credited, it would be nearly impossible to tell.

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Continued tomorrow

* Many thanks to the Carrie Haddad Gallery for allowing me to quote some biographical information 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.

1 comment

  1. Love his artwork! Thanks for posting!

    ReplyDelete

 

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