Thursday, February 16, 2017

Alan Cober and Friends

When I visited the Norman Rockwell Museum last summer, it wasn't originally to see the Rockwell art. I had heard they were hosting an exhibit of work by illustrator Alan Cober, one of my all-time favorites (written about here).

Well, it turned out it wasn't just about Cober's work. While the exhibit contained a collection of Cober's notebooks and sketchbooks, it was accompanied by a number of other works by 20th century illustrators who moved illustration from the pictorial tradition of Rockwell to the provocative works we know today.

I only took a few photos, but here they are.

This self-portrait is from 1997, the year before Cober died at age 63. This was the accompanying text:

Alan E. Cober was a fearless and inventive artist who brought the precepts of modernism to published illustration. He rejected realism in favor of an expressive, symbolic approach to his art, which was designed to enhance and interpret rather than mimic textual content. In this captivating self-portrait, one of his last major works, skulls, skeletons, and shamanistic figures surround him — odd forebearers of the artist’s passing in 1998.
A case nearby held one of his president sketchbooks from 1980:

With this accompanying text:
A spiritual descendant of the nineteenth and twentieth century artist/journalis, Alan E. Cober loved to draw, and he filled hundreds of sketchbooks with everything from observational sketches and notations to more complete paintings. This compelling visual journal followed Jimmy Carter’s unsuccessful second-term presidential campaign, and was signed by Carter himself. Cover’s sketchbooks also captured the experiences of institutionalized psychiatric patients, prison inmates, and the elderly — drawings published in The Forgotten Society, a book released by Dover Books in 1972 and reissued in 2011.
Cober kept special notebooks where he made sketches of friends and family on their birthdays:

It's a lousy photo but an inspirational idea.

I recorded only two of the images by other illustrators:

Brad Holland
The Metaphysician, 1991
Holland's career started in 1967, emphasizing the visual metaphor rather than literal representation or the rendering of other people’s ideas.

Anita Kunz
Silent Night, Endless Fight, 2005 (New Yorker cover)

Wow, that is a piece of art that does everything right, and that I bet could unite Red and Blue America.

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