Sunday, December 9, 2012

1950s Xmas cards

These came from my old neighbour, Dee, from a big set that was rescued from a garbage dump. They date from the 1950s, I think. A bunch were very fancy, with inserts, and had to have been assembled by hand:

Die cut shapes like this are very expensive to do. There is also an abvious effort to use novel materials, like yellow cellophane:

This one has a removable sheet of music:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Illustrative art discriminated against….again.

Illustrative art discriminated against….again. Sign the petition.

[Also posted on by Jaleen Grove]

Students of the Animation/Illustration program at San José State University are demanding their own department, after being denied services and space equivalent to what other art students at their school get.

According to a faculty member, the A/I students get only 6,000 square feet of space, while the Fine Art students get 63,000 and won’t share, despite A/I topping out its enrollment while Art’s enrollment falls. That’s not all. A/I students are suffering because their student-to-teacher ratio is higher than Art or Design as well; and in an effort to keep more from enrolling, they are subjected to a higher level of GPA - 3.75 - than almost every other department in the university in order to gain admission to the prestigious and successful program.It looks like the university is embarrassed to have skilled workers training under its roof, and is trying to close down the program.

In the absence of any public statement or explanation as to why the A/I students are not treated as other art students are, it appears that the students of the Animation/Illustration program at San José State University are suffering because the administration and the Art faculty who control the department have an innate and unexamined prejudice against illustration and cartoon (A/I instructors are not given a seat in the decision-making boardroom, according to students in the video).
Such prejudice against commercial arts developed in the late 19th century and peaked in the 1950s, when it was used to bolster the modernist New York School elite. In recent decades, scholarly theories from institutional critique to Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital to theories of popular culture have all demonstrated that the demonization of illustration was a product of mid-20th-century time and place, when thinkers such as the Frankfurt School marxists decried commercialism in art and culture following the devastation wreaked by Nazi propagandists, the rise of Fordist capitalism and its dark side, the Great Depression. What adherents to the “culture critique” overlook is that the so-called non-commercial arts are just as commercialized as illustration, and in far more insidious ways, being an unregulated market speculated upon by the world’s wealthiest seeking tax shelters.
While critical analysis of corporate media and popular art is a necessary component of making a better world through art, disowning a highly competent program is not the way to do it. San José State university would be well advised to see the opportunity under their noses to pioneer Practice-Based Research in the United States.

Sign the petition to get the Animation/Illustration program its own department, where they can nurture up creators who will apply good critical thinking skills along with their studio skills, to make the university proud.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I am pleased to announce that an exhibition I curated is opening on October 4 in Calgary at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It re-introduces the fabulous avant-garde illustrations of Oscar Cahén to the Canadian public for the first time in over 50 years.

I will be giving a gallery tour and talk at 5:00pm on Thursday October 4th. The exhibition opening commences at 6:00pm. Free and all are welcome!

Earlier that same day I will be giving two presentations at the Alberta College of Art, on the topics of visual culture and Canadian illustration history. If you are students there or can talk your way in, I look forward to meeting you there!

UPDATE: Show has been extended to Dec 1!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Illustration History book survey

In illustration history we have no textbook. Many instructors have been waiting for something, and several people have thought about writing one, but nothing has appeared. Meanwhile, everybody keeps re-inventing the wheel for their individual class, often missing huge bodies of knowledge that they don't have time to research.

In order to help identify the needs of potential users, and the content, scope and format of a textbook, I have designed a survey with Whitney Sherman (who teaches illustration at MICA). The Society of Illustrators in NYC has kindly agreed to sponsor it.

I would like to invite anybody with an interest in historical illustration to fill it out. It's a long survey, because it's thorough; it will take you between ten and 20 minutes, depending how much you want to comment.


Thank you for helping make the illustration history world a more professional place!
Image: Arthur William Brown circa 1945, collection of Society of Illustrators.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Arthur Heming

Curator Cassandra Getty and myself at the opening of a long overdue exhibit. Once one of Canada's most popular artists, this is the first retrospective of him ever.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Illustration panel at CAA 2013!!

Exciting news! My colleague Doug Dowd and I proposed a panel on illustration studies to the Association of Historians of American Art for inclusion at next year's CAA - and it was accepted!

For those who don't know art history circles, getting a panel or paper into CAA (College Art Association) is to art historians what getting into the Whitney Biennial is for artists. As far as I know, this is the first time the merits of periodical illustration and its status in American art history is going to be discussed in detail, with the most prominent art historians on the continent.

I hope all my illustrations buddies can make it! This is a milestone for the entire field. Possibly we are marginalized no more!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Arthur Heming mastodon picture for Jack London story 1901

I'm still working on Arthur Heming for an upcoming exhibition and catalog. Our team just recently found this image posted by an anonymous person looking for info about it. We REALLY want to talk to you, so I am posting here in hopes you will find this in a google search. Please get in touch. 

And if anyone else has Heming info or artwork - I want to talk to you too!