I find most contemporary illustration to be too gimmicky these days to be appealing, so it’s had me doing a little poking around looking at illustrators from the past. (Of course, that isn’t to say that there wasn’t plenty of artifice in past illustration.) Anyway, illustration doesn’t get the respect that fine art does because of the primary intent of illustrative work, but it’s silly when you think about how heavily reliant the contemporary art world is on commodification and yes, gimmickry as well. Superficiality can be found across all mediums of artistic expression. This subject warrants a deeper discussion, but that’s not the point of this post.
Robert Weaver, born in Pittsburgh, PA (home sweet home-ha ha) in 1924, was a dominant illustrator in the 1950s and 60s whose work was regularly published in Life, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Esquire, and other major publications. Weaver’s work has a depth that goes far beyond performing simply as colourful accompaniment to text. There is a freedom and expression in his line that moves it beyond being flatly representational that I find impelling.
There’s a quite bit of discussion about Weaver’s work and his contemporaries scattered across the internet. If you feel like doing some reading, check out the write-ups here and here. Interesting stuff.