Last night I went to the opening of one of the best exhibitions the Society of Illustrators ever mounted. The work of J.C. Leyendecker is featured and it's an amazing collection.
I think Judy Francis Zankel, past president and Terry Brown did a stellar job putting it together and it is presented in such an elegant and accessible way. The value of the work is such that a guard has even been hired while this show is at the Society.
Several months ago I took over Museum chair from Anita Kunz. She was the chairman when this show was put on the schedule. Deciding where to take the work on our walls is a daunting task. A museum chair must work their way though countless proposals and hopefully only mount shows that are the very best work and showcase both contemporary and important vintage images. The work in this show has raised the bar for both.
I walked through last night with a respect and knowledge of Leyendecker, but never did I have him on my radar as a personal influence. Perahps this will change. The paintings look wet, as if done yesterday. The ridiculously confident parallel brushwork and abstract assembly of background and foreground was a revelation to me. I stared at one part of a painting for quite a while trying to recognize that the reason it looked so great was that it was probably painted in minutes yet looked so assured.
This is one you all have to see.
From the Press Release:
“Americans Abroad: J.C. Leyendecker and the European Academic Influence
on American Illustration,” on display at the Museum of American Illustration
at the Society of Illustrators, May 21-July 12, 2008.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – –
The Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators presents “Americans Abroad: J.C.
Leyendecker and the European Academic Influence on American Illustration.” Opening
May 21-July 12, 2008, the exhibit showcases the history and art of Leyendecker and other American
Illustrators whose studies in London, Munich and Paris were influenced by the traditional teaching
methods of the European Academies in the 19th Century.