Stephen Kroninger
May 2011
Parsons Grads

Recently, Lauren Redniss asked a group of illustrators and art directors to act as guest critics for senior portfolio reviews at Parsons. I was honored to be among them. Anyway, this post grew out of that. Generally I blog about illustration's past and present. Here's a post dedicated to its future. I'm sure we'll be hearing (seeing) from many of these students in the days and years to come. I selected one image for each. If you want to see more click on their names to visit their personal websites.
  I know I missed a few students but it's not out of purposeful neglect, I went with the materials I was able to pick up at the gallery. If you're a graduating senior at Parsons and I wish to be included contact me at And if anyone represented here wants to swap out the image I've chosen for another feel free to contact me as well.

Nazokara Farnoudi

This link will take you to a series of photos from the Parsons Illustration Senior Show 2011.
A Box of Magazines 28
Herbert Auchli
Rudolf De Harak
Flavio Constantini
Umetaro Azechi

George Giusti

André François

Max Hunziker

André François

Celestino Piatti

Jan Lenica

Katchor: The Cardboard Valise

 This post is to alert you to two Ben Katchor events. The first is the recent publication of his latest book "The Cardboard Valise."
 Ben's been a friend for many years. He has one of the richest imaginations and minds of anyone I've known and I've know quite a few rich minds and imaginations over the years. Reading his picture-stories has been one of the great pleasures of my life. I'm always happy for a new collection. This latest one doesn't dissapoint.

 The New York Times calls Ben Katchor, "the most poetic, deeply layered artist ever to draw a comic strip." In recognition of his innovative use of the cartoon medium, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation gave Katchor one of its prestigious fellowships (colloquially know as "MacArthur Genius Grants").

In bestowing its fellowship, the MacArthur Foundation said, "Katchor has distilled through the medium of the comic strip an art rich with history, sociology, fiction and poetry. His meditations on urban life represent a sustained effort to re imagine the history of New York, recalling the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century city of words, with its hundreds of placards and signs, inscriptions and sandwich boards, lost places of entertainment and instruction, and forgotten forms of craft and industry."

"Mr. Katchor should take comfort and a great deal of pride in knowing that he has created the most original comic strip since George Herriman introduced 'Krazy Kat' more than 80 years ago." - New York Times Book Review

AND Some reviews for The Cardboard Valise.

 (starred review) In this winsomely haunting graphic novel from Katchor. . . Set in a world tilted about 45 degrees away from reality . . .  Rarely have books that made this little sense made so much sense. (Feb.) –Publisher’s Weekly
Katchor . . . does what every great artist does: clarifies things you knew but didn’t know you knew, or didn’t know how to articulate. Spend some time with his work, and then take a walk.  –Newsweek

Ben Katchor is the best world-builder in comics today. –The Comics Journal

“. . .  a work of great beauty and eccentricity . . . [Katchor] performs that often promised yet rarely accomplished feat of transforming the mundane into the sublime. –The Globe and Mail

“. . . the reader finds herself pulled in a new direction with every page, deep into a city far more interesting than our own . . .” – The Washington Post

“Wonderful…a pleasantly flimsy repository for an inexhaustible imagination. Open to any page and you’ll be surprised anew.” –The Washington Post

“It’s in those spaces where understanding eludes the reader and where meaning nonetheless makes itself felt, that Katchor’s signature poetry lies.” –Publishers Weekly Comics Weekly

“Defies narrative convention…creatively charged.” –Kirkus

“Artist and storyteller Katchor has achieved the goal Borges only imagined. Exiting this oneiric, shamanic, yet utterly naturalistic and sensual masterpiece, the reader steps out into a revitalized continuum richer and more exotic than the one he or she inhabited prior to the reading, a realm full of strange, alluring and bewildering lands, populated by oddball folks with odder customs.  Never again will our common globe seem like a small, homogenous, boring place…The Cardboard Valise is worldbuilding on the order of Jan Morris’s Hav, Austin Tappan Wright’s Islandia, Brian Aldiss’s Malacia, and Ursula Le Guin’s Orsinia: places that are attached to our world by extradimensional roads, down which only the sharpest and most sensitive of literary guides can lead one.  Get your ticket immediately!” –Barnes and Noble Review
“A surreal travelogue…a vast panorama of humane hamburger stands, exquisitely ethereal ethnic restaurants, ancient restroom ruins and wilds tracts of land that fit neatly next to high-rise hotels.” –Brooklyn Daily Eagle

“History, humor, and a generous dose of surrealness combine to make you think you’re walking down the back streets of Oz…Katchor is plainly steeped in the tropes of his craft, but ultimately he is uncategorizable, a man apart.”–Culture Books

“Katchor is the best world-builder in comics today…The Cardboard Valise feels like something you can open up, fall into, and stroll around in. It’s fascinating and funny and endlessly enveloping to look at, but its delights and distortions alike are ultimately a reflection of ourselves.” –The Comics Journal

“Anyone familiar with [Katchor’s] work will recognize his grotesque eccentrics (or maybe his eccentric grotesques), the off-kilter angles and depths of field in every panel, not to mention the banal objects granted strange value and the wonderful prose…There is an exhilaration and freedom here—a license to invent and destroy.” –Tablet Magazine

“Katchor’s work has the unusual distinction of being known…for its startling poetry, dreamily familiar urban landscapes, and revelations about the arcane systems and inner workings of city life…provocative, moving work.” –

“Katchor has made an entire world out of his narrow domain, and it’s as rich and vast (and sad and hilarious) a world as any writer or artist working today has concocted.” –Shelfari

“The appearance of a new Katchor collection is always reason to celebrate… Katchor is a true, rare, untarnished New York treasure — the kind of artist who can concoct a fantastical made-up world, but one that ensures you’ll never see the real world in quite the same way again.” –The 6th Floor blog

“His whimsical, mournful metaphysical verbal gags and scratchy visual poems are at once the most conceptual and conversational comics being made, and for my taste the best ever made…it’s only March, but surely Katchor is the automatic writer-artist of the year.” –ComicCritique Blog

Covarrubius Harlem 1927
MOTHER (Frontispiece)

 Miguel Covarrubias is best remembered as a celebrity caricaturist. He came to the United States from Mexico at the age of nineteen and was an immediate sensation. In Humanities, Johanna Rizzo writes, "Soon after his arrival in New York in 1923, Miguel Covarrubias was introduced to Carl Van Vechten--novelist, photographer, critic, and general tastemaker--who opened the world of the smart set to the young artist he thought to be a genius...The two lunched at the Algonquin, and after Covarrubias had impressed Dorothy Parker and the other wits of the Round Table gathered there, Van Vechten set up a meeting with Vanity Fair. Covarrubias's work for the magazine made him famous."
 "Through (Carl Van Vechten), Covarrubias became involved with the writers and artists of the Harlem Renaissance, both personally and professionally. He illustrated The Weary Blues for Langston Hughes, who declared that Covarrubias was “the only artist I know whose Negro things have a ‘Blues touch about them.’” In 1927…Covarrubias published Negro Drawings, which drew on his observations of Harlem and its residents. The book contained a number of images the artist termed “type sketches” of African Americans of the jazz age…Although exaggeration of form and behavior is one of the hallmarks of caricature, these images seem to be also about dance and movement as racial behaviors. Countee Cullen, for example, wrote: “This young Mexican has an uncanny feeling for the comical essence behind those characters he chooses to portray; he does not choose to portray all, however, apparently finding the most interesting types in the cabarets. He is especially successful in capturing the illusion of motion.” Critics of the time celebrated the images for being free of caricature, despite some obvious references to ideas of black rhythm. Covarrubias himself declared, “I don’t consider my drawings caricatures. They are – well – they are drawings. A caricature is the exaggerated character of an individual for satirical purpose. These drawings are more from a serious point of view.” ---source: Enter the New Negroes: Images of Race in American Culture by Martha Jane Nadell
 At the time, Covarrubias shared a studio with the painter Al Hirschfeld , who later turned to caricature. He reminisced, “Once Miguel became involved with the Harlem Renaissance, he had good reason for never being at the studio. If you wanted him for something important, he could be found uptown attending some performances or sitting in a nightclub busy making hundreds of sketches. Some of these he would later turn into marvelous paintings.” ---source: Miguel Covarubbias: 4 Miradas/4 Visions, essay ‘Miguel Covarubbias and the Emerging Image of Harlem’ by Adriana Williams
 “Miguel’s contribution to the Harlem Renaissance is justifiably arguable. While he intentionally challenged old stereotypes, he unintentionally begat new ones. Nevertheless, his work is significant for documenting the emergence of the new spirit that rose out of Harlem in the twenties, a spirit that he understood and frankly admired and wanted to learn more about.” ---source: Covarrubias by Adriana Williams
Images selected from "NEGRO DRAWINGS" by Miguel Covarrubias (Alfred A. Knopf 1927) The book consists of fifty-six full-page plates divided into four sections: Varia, The Theatre, The Cabarets, Three Cuban Women.






NUDE (Varia)

BLUES SINGER (The Theatre)

CHORUS GIRL (The Theatre)

CAKE WALK (The Theatre)

STRUT (The Theatre)

THE STOMP (The Theatre)



ORCHESTRA (In The Cabarets)

COUPLE DANCING (In The Cabarets)

THE BOLITO KING (In The Cabarets)

CABARET TYPE (In The Cabarets)

ENTERTAINER (In The Cabarets)

ENTERTAINER (In The Cabarets)

GIRL AT TABLE (In The Cabarets)

WAITER (In The Cabarets)

RHAPSODY IN BLUE (In The Cabarets)---as it's reproduced in the book

HEAD (Three Cuban Women)

WOMAN WITH BASKET (Three Cuban Women)
Recent Articles

Washington Square Park (22)

CITY SYMPHONY: Video and Production Art (51)

Children's Book Sketchbook (Psssst...It's Me the Bogeyman) (27)

Faces (14)

My Studio (49)








LINKS--Advertising (11)



Links to Articles
Stephen Kroninger