Monday, November 28, 2011

Illustration's Permanent Homes

I recently discovered Quentin Blake is in the process of setting up a devoted, permanent illustration museum. Excellent, all for it. But I am mystified why he says it's the first in the world. The Cutlers have done their best to do the same in the USA in their own way. The Norman Rockwell Museum isn't just about Rockwell.  The Society of Illustrators' Museum of American Illustration is public. There are other institutions in the US that support subfields of illustration, such as the Eric Carle Museum and the National Museum of Wildlife Art.  In Europe, there is Museo ABC.

I also find it odd that Blake's group has chosen the name "House of Illustration," as this seems to tread awfully close to Illustration House, which as a private commercial gallery has been a fixture for nearly 40 years.

I'm all for the more the merrier, but this kind of cultural poaching is not very merry. If we're to collectively work on the much needed effort to make illustration as valued as other arts, respecting our peers is essential.

I commend Quentin Blake for his efforts. Perhaps he just didn't do his research and the mistakes are innocent.  I hope he revises his PR to more truly reflect the situation, and I invite him to reach out to fellow institutions to make a strong network that would help him achieve his goals.


David Apatoff said...

I agree with you. I understand the temptation to start a new effort with as dramatic and bold a mission statement as possible, but Blake just dilutes the credibility of his effort when so many contrary examples spring readily to mind.

It reminds me of the Cutlers and Charles Martignette both insisting their collections were "the greatest collection of illustration art." Thank god the artwork is strong enough by itself to withstand the promotional excesses of its fans.

Jaleen Grove said...

What I especially dislike is that his actions leave the impression of dismissing any and all things American out of a sentiment that is akin to racism.

People in the UK love to American-bash as much as we Canadians do, but there's having a laugh and then there's sheer ignorance and willful injury. Surely Quentin is above such pettiness. Perhaps he has just overlooked that this is how his actions might signify to some.

Roger Reed said...

The illustration world is so big and so fragmentary, it doesn't surprise me that someone could think their island in the archipelago is the only one. I've been hoping a center strong enough to hold will form, but haven't seen it yet.

Meanwhile, I take no offense, and believe there can be many "Houses" in this mansion.

-- from Illustration House