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Stephen Kroninger
Robert Osborn (1904-1994)
posted:
“America lost one of its leading graphic satirists when Robert Osborn passed on in Dec. 1994 at the age of 90. For almost 50 years, the devout moralist used his cartoons, caricatures and visual essays to change the world. However, Osborn felt that he never succeeded in this effort. In his later years, he confided to a friend that his one regret in life was that he had failed in transforming the world even after almost half a century of critiquing it.”---Steven Heller, PRINT, January 1995.

Here’s a collection of images selected from Robert Osborn books that I’ve picked up over the years. For anyone unfamiliar with his work, Osborn was a giant. You’ll notice that many of his images have been echoed in the illustrations of others who’ve followed. That’s a greater tribute to his brilliance than I could ever put in words.

  Although much of Osborn’s work accompanies text, his own and by other authors, I felt it best to pretty much allow the art to speak for itself. Here and there I’ll add a short caption of my own to identify an issue or an individual. Beyond that, it’s pure Osborn.
HOW TO SHOOT DUCKS,  Coward-McCann, 1941  Osborn’s first published book. It was followed by HOW TO SHOOT QUAIL and HOW TO CATCH TROUT.
Front Cover
ACRES AND PAINS by S. J. Perelman, Reynal and Hitchock, 1947
Back Cover
LOW AND INSIDE,  Farrah, Strauss and Young, 1953
Full Flight With The Assistance of Alcohol (Low and Inside)
"The Matador of Death (Low and Inside)
OSBORN ON LEISURE,  Simon & Schuster, 1957
THE DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN MALE by the Editors of Look,  Random House,  1958
From: SUBVERSE by Marya Mannes, Braziller, 1959

The poem below provides the text for the image above.

MIDDLE EAST  by Marya Mannes (1952)

Petroleum, petroleum,
       With Power so accursed,
Thou art no longer lubricant
        But bringeth out the worst.

Cupidity and violence
          Gush with from a soil
Where few are there who benefit
        From any drop of oil.
THE VULGARIANS, New York Graphic Society, 1960
"A Culture of Foaming Nonsense"---Osborn (The Vulgarians)
"We Pretend To Be Vigorous."---Osborn (The Vulgarians)
"...Conforming, unthreatening, median, massive mediocrity."---Osborn (The Vulgarians)
Endpapers (The Vulgarians)
A MODERN DEMONOLOGY by Frank Getlein, Clarkson N. Potter Inc, 1961
DYING TO SMOKE by Fred W. Benton, M.D.,  Houghton Mifflin Company, 1964
Back Cover
From: NOT SO RICH AS YOU THINK by George R. Stewart,  Houghton Mifflin Company, 1967
MISSILE MADNESS by Herbert Scoville, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1970
Endpapers (Missile Madness)
Senator Joseph McCarthy (Originally published in LIFE Magazine, republished in OSBORN ON OSBORN, Tichnor & Fields, 1982)
Vietnam: We Burn Their Children. (OSBORN ON OSBORN, Tichnor & Fields, 1982)
NIXON (republished in MAN BITES MAN: TWO DECADES OF SATIRIC ART edited by Steven Heller, 1981) LINKS The New York Times: Obituary TIME: 1953 Profile: A Dash of Bitters all images © copyright the estate of Robert Osborn
"Don't Get Perconel With A Chicken" (1959)

Above and following, Nishan Akgulian was kind enough to scan in and send along some more of Osborn's work from his collection.
"The Nixon Watch" (1970)
"The Everlasting Cocktail Party" (1964)
"Basics -- an I-Ca-Read-Book for grownups" (1962) by Eve Merriam
"The Great Executive Dream" (1972)


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