Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Art that's commercial

An excellent book that covers seven decades of creativity from Robert McGinnis. Look through the book and you'll soon be aware that he's an incredibly versatile artist which is probably why he's been in demand for years, he always delivers what the client wants. His paperback covers from the sixties are collected because they feature hard edge dames known as 'McGinnis women' and he painted hundreds. Plenty are shown in these pages fortunately without the bland title and sub-deck typography, the actual covers are shown much smaller. 

I thought the 'McGinnis women', either nude or clothed very stylised, they all look the same except for the faces and hair styles. His movie posters and consumer magazine illustrations reveal much about his compositions and painting technique. For example, on page ninety-seven there is a superb picture of Walter Matthau (for the movie: 'The odd couple') sitting in chair reading a paper with his legs laid out on a casual table, the chair, Matthau's clothing, a bowl of fruit and some other food on the table are rendered in what looks like a very casual brush-stroke style but is in fact very precise and deliberate, making the painting totally convincing and eye-catching.  A 1968 painting from 'Good Housekeeping' has a bird's eye-view of a white house framed by a lawn and trees, a beautiful composition with added detail of an old fashioned water pump, an electricity box on a wall and rather small, a young girl sitting near a doorway. Away from the girlie art there are plenty of examples of McGinnis creativity throughout the book. 

The back pages have some wonderful examples of his non-commercial work including twenty showing cowboys in the old West. I thought the book was an worthwhile overview of a very versatile artist though in common with other books about well known illustrators there is no mention about how McGinnis works. Nothing about his working environment, types of pencils, brushes, paints etc. Including this would really have made the book complete.

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