Friday, January 26, 2007

Aurelius Battaglia and the Illustration Revolution

For the first half of the 1950's, magazines presented their readers with a steady diet of traditional, "realistic" illustration. With the arrival of art director Leonard Jossel at Collier's in 1956, that began to change. Jossel hired the likes of James Flora and David Stone Martin, both of whom had already revolutionized album cover art, to do large, full colour double page spreads for the magazine.

For the Colliers Short Story in the front of the magazine, Jossel called on Aurelius Battaglia...

Jane Oliver...

Jan Balet (who had been pioneering the art of stylized magazine illustration for some time already, pretty much on his own)...

and Robert Shore, among others.

Jossel's foray into stylized illustration was only the first tremor in what would soon become a seismic shift in commercial art. Television was impacting advertising revenues and circulation numbers for all the major mainstream magazines and perhaps Jossel and the managers at Collier's felt they needed to give readers something visually different and compelling to draw them in.

As well, the magazine had been struggling for years against its main competitor, the juggernaut Saturday Evening Post. Perhaps Collier's managers felt their avant garde approach would distinguish them from the still traditional appearing Post.

Whatever the case, the magazine was already in its death-throes. Collier's ceased publication in December 1956. But Jossel's experimentation with stylized illustration had caught on. Soon, other publications were using more and more non-traditional, decorative styles of art. And even those illustrators one would label as "realistic" were experimenting more and more with interesting new techniques and avant garde approaches.

A quake of massive proportions had begun rumbling across the illustration landscape; its aftershock is still being felt to this day.


  1. Anonymous1:08 PM

    (Sorry for the delay---just saw that this hadn't posted the other week...)


    Thanks for the focus on Battaglia this week---certainly one my favorites, particularly with regard to his caricatures. Thought you'd like to have these if you don't already:

    They're from a long-defunct weekly news mag called 'The Reporter'......

    All the best to you & thanks yet again for the daily eye candy ;-)


  2. Anonymous8:24 AM

    thank you for the Battaglia news!
    I won't ever stop searching news about him.

  3. Anonymous10:23 AM

    I am trying to find out about an old piece of art that I have. On the back of the art is the name Leonard Jossel and an address...can anyone tell me about him?

  4. I knew Len Jossel, I took some design classes from him when he was at the Ringling School of Art & Design in '86. He was a graphic designer in New York, he worked for many publications. He was brilliant, and a immense talent. was sad to learn of his death in the early '90 s. If you have some of his art, you have a great find.

  5. He was a professor at the Ringling School of Art in the late 1970s and early 80, they may have info.