Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Artist of the month: Bernie Fuchs


In memory of Bernie Fuchs, who I heard recently passed away, October is dedicated to one of the finest illustrators of his generation.

I first heard of Fuchs from my tutor Doug Harker at LJMU*, who repeatedly used Fuch's work to demonstrate quality illustration, not least because he himself had learned from a tutor who had refered to Fuchs. I've heard it said that Fuchs represented the golden age of American illustration, and though I personally would say that accolade belonged to Howard Pyle, from half a century before Fuchs, I can't deny that Fuchs represented a golden high point of originality in American illustration, not least in how consistent the quality of his work was, and how easy hard work seems to have been for him. Fuchs was most noted for his sports illustrations, but he specialised in a number of subjects, such as history, ambience and the composition of light. The latter was what made him an example for me at LJMU, and I spent many hours looking at SI annuals** trying to figure out how Fuchs had managed to convey so much with so little.

Its not hard to see in many contemporary artists and illustrators (the ones I like who are not bothered with shocking people into awe, but whom rely on talent and good composition), have taken much from Fuchs, regard the images below and compare them to the work of C Michael Dudash, Craig Mullins and Mark Lag├╝e and the similarities are obvious.

In Fuchs, you find a soft, hazy world where the light is ever present, but manages to tighten perceptibly, coalescing around details to attract the eye whilst providing an over all ambience, similar to the work of Claude Monet, to create the impression of context. This wasn't something Fuchs did from the beginning, his earlier works are loaded with details, but as he progressed, he polished the way he worked until he'd found the perfect balance of composition, light, impression and context.







* Liverpool, John Moores University, later they changed the name to Liverpool Art School, John Moores University, and today i think they've changed it to Liverpool John Moores University Art and Design Academy.
** Every year the Society of Illustrators, based in New York, publishes a 'best of American illustration' annual. For any one interested in art and illustration, these books are well worth looking up.

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