Tag Archives: Artist

New York In The Late 1940s As Seen By The Saturday Evening Post’s Cover Artists

Five Classic New York City Saturday Evening Post
Magazine Covers

A magazine with great cover art? The New Yorker fits the bill with every issue having an illustration adorning the covers since beginning publication in 1925.

Over the course of the 20th century photography eventually replaced magazine cover art. But if there was a magazine that could give The New Yorker a challenge in the cover art department, it would be The Saturday Evening Post.

If The New Yorker was the quintessential representative for sophisticates, then The Saturday Evening Post represented the rest of America. The covers of The Saturday Evening Post mirrored America, the same way The New Yorker echoed New York.

Arguably no New Yorker cover artist past or present is widely known to most Americans. The Post fostered the career of a legendary artist, Norman Rockwell. From the late teens until the 1960s Rockwell drew an astounding 321 covers for the magazine. Rockwell’s name and work is still recognized by millions of people nearly 40 years after his death.

But what of the hundreds of other talented artists who illustrated magazine covers? There were only a few artists who worked for both the New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post. Each magazine wanted exclusivity considering the illustration style was at times somewhat similar.

Every now and then, the Post would feature a New York City scene on its cover.

Here are five examples from the 1940s.

John Falter (1910-1982) drew over 120 covers for the Saturday Evening Post. The April 30, 1949 cover shows Central Park and the skyline of the upper east side. The original cover Falter submitted had a lightning bolt and a rainbow simultaneously, which concerned the Post’s editors. They consulted the weather bureau asking if it was possible to have both lightning and a rainbow appear at the same time? The weather bureau replied they had never seen the phenomenon but where weather was concerned “anything could happen.”

The Post’s Art Department decided to remove the lightning and the illustration appeared as seen here.

Constantin Alajalov (1900-1987) was one of those few artists who worked concurrently for The New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post. The February 12, 1949 cover has  a young lady in a travel office dreaming of getting away from the cold as she’s surrounded with posters advertising sunny locales. Note there is something never seen in New York City anymore: clotheslines connected from building to building. Alajalov originally drew snowflakes falling in the courtyard, but then decided to remove them when he thought: would anyone be drying clothes in a snowstorm? Probably not. So either remove the clotheslines or the snowflakes. Alajalov chose to remove the snowflakes. Continue reading

New York In 1911 As Drawn By Vernon Howe Bailey

6 Drawings Of New York Unseen For Over 100 Years By Vernon Howe Bailey

Times Square The Great White Way (1911)

Obscure publications can yield hidden gems. These drawings by famed artist Vernon Howe Bailey appeared in the Illuminating Engineer in 1911 and as far as can be determined have not been reproduced since then.

Vernon Howe Bailey (1874-1953) was a prodigious illustrator whose work appeared primarily in  newspapers and magazines.

He eventually made his way to the New York Sun newspaper in the 1920s where he captured New York’s architecture and streets  with exquisite on-the-spot illustrations.

Eventually a good deal of Bailey’s New York City work was compiled in a book called Magical City. These illustrations were not included in that book. So for the first time in over 100 years here are Vernon Howe Bailey’s renderings of New York City in 1911.

Looking North on the Speedway to the Famous Highbridge (1911)

As these illustrations were intended for a magazine promoting electric lighting, you will notice that electric light fixtures appear rather prominently in each illustration.

The Harlem Speedway, where wealthy New Yorker’s used to take out their horse drawn carriages for a spirited run, was eventually incorporated into the highway that became the Harlem River Drive. Continue reading

UFO In A 15th Century Painting?

A Flying Saucer Or Just A Radiant Cloud?

The Madonna with Saint GiovanninoThe Madonna with Saint Giovannino by Domenico Ghirlandaio 1449 – 1494, is on display in the Sala d’Ercole in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy.

The Madonna with Saint Giovannino ufoThere is nothing unusual about the painting until you look over the shoulder of the Madonna and in the right hand corner there is this object:

Now many people who have looked closely at this painting see nothing but a cloud. But there are others who claim that this is an object that is intended to represent some sort of flying object. At first glance it does appear to have some of the characteristics of a flying saucer.

The Madonna with Saint Giovannino ufo 2The shepherd and the dog are looking up at the object, so it is definitely meant to be there. But why would the artist paint a UFO in a religious setting? Does that even make any sense? Continue reading

At Death’s Door: Beautiful Mausoleum Doors & Gates At Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery

An Artistic Treasure – Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery Mausoleum Doors And Gates

Frederick Kampfe mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Frederick Kampfe mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Ambrose Bierce in his Devil’s Dictionary defined a mausoleum as “the final and funniest folly of the rich.”

Of course some of the mausoleums at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn are elaborate and cost as much as a nice house back in the day. But regardless of Bierce’s cynicism, many of the wealthy spent large amounts of money hiring top architects to design and build their final resting places in hopes of producing eternal shrines to themselves. While many names emblazoned on the tombs are now forgotten, their inhabitants ended up with some beautiful and memorable architectural work that because of their location, a cemetery, is not seen by many.

Thorne - Smith mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Thorne – Smith mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Here we are focusing on the doors and gates to these mausoleums which were done by artisans of the highest caliber. Some are ornate, some are ostentatious, and some are simple yet elegant.

While some of the decorations on the doors are purely artistic in form, others display symbols which have deeper meanings. Because these mausoleums were commissioned works, the symbolism displayed on the doors was usually well thought out by their owners.

In the 19th and early 20th century many people who visited cemeteries understood the subtle meanings of the icons. It is now mostly a lost art, with crosses, Stars of David, and other common symbols dominating newer funeral markers.

Let us pause and gaze at a few examples of mausoleum portals featuring old school craftsmanship at fabulous Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. (click any ph0to to enlarge)

Peter Moller mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Peter Moller mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Valentine Mott mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Valentine Mott mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

The large angel in relief is flanked on top by two smaller angels blowing trumpets representing the Call to the Resurrection.

Acea mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Acea mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Continue reading

New York Of The Future As Imagined In 1939

1939 Architects Visualize How New York Would Look In 1950

New York of the future in 1950 as imagined in 1939

Over the years there have been many people who have tried to predict what New York City would look like in the future.

The architects who came up with this vision of Manhattan were way off. Considering that this drawing was made in 1939 and was showing what the city would look like only eleven years later, it is wildly inaccurate. That may be attributed in part to World War II which disrupted almost all building plans.  The artist is V. Hagopian.

Here is the partial text that accompanied the release of this drawing in 1939.

Here’s the New York City of 1950, as prepared by the architects for their great Exposition of Architecture and the Allied Arts which opens April 15th and published today for the first time. And its not a stretch of the imagination at that, for almost every detail of the picture, though not so extensive a scale, can be found in New York today, even including upper terraces on which people may walk.

Starting at the bottom: All freight, trucks and subways will proceed underground. Pneumatic tubes will carry first-class mail at high speed as now, but will be extended to airplane landing stations over the Hudson River piers, and mail after passing through the post office, will be shot at great speed through pneumatic mail tubes leading into office buildings. Street at ground levels will accommodate passenger and other lighter type automobiles.

Elevated sidewalks even with the second story level in the buildings and crossing above the streets at intersections will forever remove the streets from our midst.

Graffiti As Vandalism, Not Art

Museum of The City Of New York Graffiti Exhibition Doesn’t Show What The Majority Of Graffiti Is – Unintelligible Scrawls By Vandals

I caught the newest exhibit at The Museum of the City of New York entitled “City as Canvas,” which glorifies the practitioners of graffiti and their “work” during the 1970’s and 1980’s in New York City.

For anyone who thinks that graffiti is something to be celebrated in a retrospective by an exhibition at an important cultural institution, here is some evidence to contradict that viewpoint.

Iouri Podladtchikov, Olympic half-pipe king visits the lower east side with typical graffiti defacing a grand old building.  photo - Casey Kelbaugh for the New York Times

Iouri Podladtchikov, Olympic half-pipe king visits the lower east side with typical graffiti defacing a grand old building. photo – Casey Kelbaugh for the New York Times

A typical display of current graffiti “art” as seen in this building covered by spray paint on the lower east side really is a better representation of the so called graffiti artist. It pains me to see old handcrafted stone buildings covered with paint. The beautiful Queensboro Bridge girders and stonework are always being cleaned and re-painted due to these miscreants who attack our public property with their spray cans, markers and etching knives.

Subway graffiti photo taken Feb 8, 1982

Subway graffiti photo taken Feb 8, 1982

The onslaught of graffiti began in earnest in the subway system in the 1970’s where riding a train was a demoralizing prospect. Almost every single car was covered in dripping unintelligible paint and marker scrawls, which obliterated any blank spaces. Continue reading

Beauties Of The Past – Annabelle Whitford

Annabelle Whitford Moore Buchan And The Original “Gibson Girl”

Gibson Girl Annabelle Moore Whitford Buchan Follies 1908

The epitome of feminine beauty at the turn of the century was captured in artist Charles Dana Gibson’s skillful drawings of women, that came to be known as “Gibson Girls.”

Gibson Girl Social Ladder 0040

Annabelle Whitford was 15 years old when she achieved notoriety dancing at the Columbian World Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Annabelle appeared in movies performing her dances under the name Annabelle Moore from 1896 -1902. She went onto a successful stage career hitting the top as a star in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1908 playing one of the “Nell Brinkley Girls.” Brinkley (September 5, 1886 – October 21, 1944) was a female newspaper artist whose creations were very similar to the Gibson Girls. In 1910 Annabelle married Dr. Edward James Buchan and retired from performing.

Gibson Girl Annabelle Moore Whitford Buchan Nell Brinkley Girls Follies 1908

In her obituary in the New York Times it was said Annabelle “was the symbol of beauty in her day. She was billed as ‘the original Gibson Girl’ because of her striking resemblance to the Charles Dana Gibson portrait.” The illustrations below are from Gibson’s 1902 book The Social Ladder.

Gibson Girl Social Ladder 0074 Gibson Girl Social Ladder 0081 Gibson Girl Social Ladder 0012

Continue reading

Objects Lost and Found At Grand Central Over The Past 100 Years

Fascinating Museum Of Memories Collection Displayed At Grand Central Terminal’s Transit Museum Annex

Grand Central exhibit case This year marks the 100th anniversary of the current Grand Central Terminal.  Jane Greengold is one of a dozen contemporary artists taking part in an exhibition, On Time /Grand Central at 100. Her work is an installation of objects that have been lost and then found over the past 100 years by one family of conductors who worked on various train lines at Grand Central.

Greengold describes how the project came together:

“When I started working on a piece for the Centennial of Grand Central Terminal, I walked around the Terminal for days, looking for inspiration. I was lucky to meet a conductor, Joe Wenham, willing to chat. He told me his father, grandmother, and great-grandfather had all been conductors, Grand Central exhibit explanationstarting before 1913. I said his family itself could illustrate the history of the Terminal and he told me that his great-grandfather had begun a family tradition of retrieving items he had brought to the Lost and Found and that had not been reclaimed, even buying items valuable enough to be sold. He began on a whim, but then decided to create a personal museum of memories of his passengers. The family has kept this up for 100 years.

They did not usually keep the kinds of objects most often lost — umbrellas, gloves, hats, glasses – but kept things that happened to strike their fancy. Neither Joe nor his father has been as enthusiastic about collecting as the first two generations, but they didn’t stop. So instead of creating a work for the Centennial, I persuaded Joe to share some of the family collection, and together we chose the objects presented here.”

This is the sort of thing that will bring a smile to your face if you go see it in person. I love the fact that the Wenham family contemporarily tagged each item with where and when the object was found, along with their astute and sometimes witty observations. Below is a sample of objects from the collection.

The photograph caption recaps what is on the tag: the date and train the object was found on and a remark from the Wenham who found it. You can click on any picture to enlarge.

May 20, 1920 Twentieth Century Limited "I saw the man pace up and down again and again, looking at the box worrying it (sic). I could not believe he lost it. Why didn't he claim it? Was the marriage over?"

May 20, 1920 – Twentieth Century Limited
“I saw the man pace up and down again and again, looking at the box worrying it (sic). I could not believe he lost it. Why didn’t he claim it? Was the marriage over?”

June 25, 1924 Special "These were the happiest bettors I ever saw"

June 25, 1924 – Special
“These were the happiest bettors I ever saw”

February 13, 1931 - 20th Century Limited "I never saw anyone wearing this. I don't even know if it is a man or a woman."

February 13, 1931 – 20th Century Limited
“I never saw anyone wearing this. I don’t even know if it was a man or a woman.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 5, 1945 - Pacemaker "There are hundreds of these. But I never saw anyone smoke this much"

May 5, 1945 – Pacemaker
“There are hundreds of these. But I never saw anyone smoke this much”

 

 

 

February 27, 1946 -  "I'd be so sad if I lost my babies photos."

February 27, 1946 – Pacemaker
“I’d be so sad if I lost my babies photos.”

October 3, 1946 - Pacemaker "Girls! were playing with cars! Maybe they'll be race car drivers! It's a German car!"

October 3, 1946 – Pacemaker
“Girls! were playing with cars! Maybe they’ll be race car drivers! It’s a German car!”

 

 

 

 

March 3, 1947 - Empire State "The woman was as round as the bottle"

March 3, 1947 – Empire State
“The woman was as round as the bottle”

September 17, 1958 - 20th Century Limited "Boring travel diary of a spoiled 13 year old. Went to Europe on Queen Mary, lost diary on a fancy train. Must be a brat."

September 17, 1958 – 20th Century Limited
“Boring travel diary of a spoiled 13 year old. Went to Europe on Queen Mary, lost diary on a fancy train. Must be a brat.”

 

 

 

November 28, 1963 - Empire State "I talked to the

November 28, 1963 – Empire State
“I talked to the boy who had this. He’d planned to go to the game but then went home for comfort after the assassination. Wasn’t sure he’d go to the game now. I guess he didn’t.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Time /Grand Central at 100 is on view at the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex & Store at Grand Central until July 7, 2013.

Rock n’ Roll Deaths In April 2013

Andy Johns, Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones Right Hand Man; Storm Thorgerson, Album Cover Creator Extraordinaire; Christina Amphlett, Lead Singer Divinyls; All Die in April

April has been a bad month for the world of rock ‘n roll, as death has taken away three unique talents.

Andy Johns with Eddie Van Halen © Getty Images

Andy Johns with Eddie Van Halen © Getty Images

Andy Johns who worked on some of the greatest rock albums of all-time as a producer and engineer died in Los Angeles on April 7, at the age of 62 due to complications of a stomach ulcer.

Johns was a name not known to casual rock fans because he worked behind the scenes, but his contributions to dozens of classic albums is immeasurable. From the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street to Led Zeppelin’s greatest period of production in the early 1970’s, Johns was setting up and overseeing the recording of albums that will be played for as long as people listen to rock n’ roll. Some of the many bands and artists Andy Johns worked with included Free, Eric Clapton, Blind Faith, Cinderella, Van Halen, Joe Satriani and Mott The Hoople.

After Andy Johns died I scanned The New York Times on a daily basis in disbelief that they did not cover his death. Nearly two weeks after his passing, an obituary finally appeared.

Here, Andy Johns talks about his experiences working with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and the recording of Led Zeppelin’s classic Led Zeppelin IV (a.k.a. 4 Symbols or Untitled) and the song Stairway To Heaven.

David Gilmour and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd between Storm Throrgerson photo possibly by Jill Furmanovsky

David Gilmour and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd between Storm Thorgerson photo possibly by Jill Furmanovsky

Storm Thorgerson was a name even less known by the general public than Andy Johns, but literally millions of people have seen his work. Thorgerson, as half of the design firm Hipgnosis with Aubrey Powell, created dozens of the most iconic record album covers, sleeve and insert artwork of all time. After the dissolution of Hipgnosis in 1983, Thorgerson ran his own firm and continued working until he died on April 13 at the age of 69 from cancer.

LP Cover Scorpions Lovedrive LP Cover The Who Who's Next LP Cover Led Zeppelin Presence LP Cover AC DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Thorgerson’s work was surreal and many times bizarre. But it caught your attention like any great artwork that was meant to be contemplated. Millions of people who bought albums would study the large canvas that an LP album offered for insights and clues about the music and the band they were listening to. With the supremacy of CD’s in the 1990’s, cover artwork was given a much smaller space and a less important role in point of purchase sales of music. Despite this, Thorgerson maintained a steady stream of clients who wanted original and outstanding works of art to go with their musical output.

LP Cover Yes Going For The One LP Cover Peter Gabriel LP Cover Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here LP cover Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy Gatefold

Best known for his long association with Pink Floyd, Thorgerson also created album covers for a wide variety of bands including Led Zeppelin, Yes, Scorpions, UFO, Phish, AC/DC, 10cc, Black Sabbath, The Alan Parsons Project, Anthrax and many others.

In this clip below, Thorgerson talks about the beginnings of Hipgnosis.

Chrissy AmphlettThe Divinyls lead singer Christina Amphlett was known in the United States as more of a one-hit wonder for the 1991 top ten song I Touch Myself than for anything else. But in her native Australia, Chrissy Amphlett was a rock legend. The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard even spoke of the impact of Amphlett’s death and what she meant to the Australian music scene.

Amphlett died in New York City at the age of 53 on April 20 after battling multiple sclerosis and breast cancer for many years.

The Divinyls were not just a pop band, they could rock as hard as anybody as evidenced here in a 1982 live performance of Boys in Town. With her schoolgirl outfit Amphlett displays some head-banging moves reminiscent of AC/DC’s Angus Young.

 

Part 5 Vintage New York City Books With Great Art Deco Dust Jackets

The Art of The Book #5 – New York City Deco Dust Jackets From The 20′s & 30′s

As we complete our look at New York City books from 80+ years ago, some of these dust jackets incorporate photography into their covers which the other dust jackets we have featured do not. (click on any photo to enlarge)

Art Deco dj Portrait of New YorkPortrait Of New York by Felix Riesenberg & Alexander Alland, New York: Macmillan, 1939 dj illustrator, Alexander Alland

Felix Riesnberg (1879-1939) was a civil engineer and master mariner. He was a polar explorer and wrote numerous books with nautical themes. Portrait of New York ventures among the populace and is an accurate description of the city and its people.

Alexander Alland (1902-1989) was a master photographer and the book shows a small sample of his immense talents. Continue reading