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« Regional Clothing | Main | The Joy of Groupthink »

September 22, 2009

Bernie Fuchs, RIP

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Bernie Fuchs, one of the greatest illustrators of the 20th century, has died at age 76.

I wrote about him here. The Washington Post obituary is here. But if you have time to click on only one link, please click here to read what David Apatoff has to say. Apatoff knew Bernie and was present as Fuchs lay dying.

Below are two examples of Fuchs' early commercial art. His style evolved away from what you see. Today, these examples probably don't seem exceptional. But when they first appeared, just like the original Star Wars movie, they seemed sensational. I know, because I was was commercial art major in college at the time.

Gallo wine advertisement

Story illustration

When someone like Bernie Fuchs appears on the scene, it makes one believe there's such a thing as genius.



UPDATE: For a reaction from a commercial artist who was too young to have experienced Fuchs' initial impact, here are remarks by Leif Peng.

posted by Donald at September 22, 2009


Thanks, Donald. No where else do I get this stuff. You and Michael have used the web to bring forward the best commercial/popular art and give it a deserved eminence. I like that you've both done this without irony or flippancy. Appreciating what's right under my nose is a lesson I need to keep re-learning.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on September 22, 2009 8:07 PM

Amazing how closely the illustrator Bob Peak's style resembles Fuchs' style. So closely it almost appears - to me at least - lifted from Fuchs.

Posted by: ricpic on September 23, 2009 6:02 PM

I know this illustration but I didn't know the artist's name until this post. It is so mid-century modern, I love it, too. It has the same clean, sleek feel that movies of that era have. And notice how svelte everyone is--that's really how people were back then! There wouldn't be room today for 2 beefy modern couples in the Gallo wine ad!

Posted by: KR on September 23, 2009 6:37 PM

ricpic -- I suppose I ought to research this before replying, and might even do so eventually. Peak was born in 1928, making him about four years older than Fuchs. Fuchs spent a few years in Detroit doing backdrops for car brochures and print ads before hitting the big-time; I'm less clear on Peak's early career without doing that research.

However, my recollection is that they both burst on the scene at the end of the 1950s along with another artist or two who worked in a similar manner. Something in the water? For sure, all of them impressed me at the time. What set Fuchs apart was that his illustrations were more "complete" in that they tended to feature full backgrounds rather than cut-out or "big head" composition artwork that was the rage around 1960. That's my quick take, anyway.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on September 23, 2009 7:04 PM

Oh no! Fuchs really was a great. Sad to hear that we've lost him.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 24, 2009 12:11 PM

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