Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Lesser Look: Deep Impacts

Part of a month-long celebration of Ron Lesser’s artistic legacy.

During the course of my original interview with Ron Lesser, this last April, I asked him whether there were any specific artists who had been particularly influential on his work. He quickly responded, “Norman Rockwell.” Shortly thereafter, though, he e-mailed me a list of “other artists that I really love,” noting in his introduction to it that “I will not mention living illustrators for reasons you can assume.” Below is Lesser’s list, with his comments.

A Law for the Lion, by Louis Auchincloss (Signet, 1954), with cover art by Stanley Zuckerberg; Murder in Monaco, by John Flagg (Gold Medal, 1957), with an illustration by Bob Peak.

Stanley Zuckerberg—very underrated. I believe he was the best illustrator/artist making paperback covers during the very “painty” period of the 1940s through the ’60s. Also James Avati [who had a] similar style, but [there was] no one better than Zuckerberg.
Joe Bowler and Coby Whitmore. I used to look in the large window of the Charles E. Cooper Studio, which was east of the Art Students League, and admire these excellent illustrators.
Frank McCarthy, who was with Fredman-Chaite Studios, along Bob Peak; and I believe Bernie Fuchs was there as well.

Before this group there was Dean Cornwell, who was a huge influence on [my teacher] Frank J. Reilly.
Harold von Schmidt. I used his son for some of my Western paintings, including this one.
Tom Lovell—an incredible artist, none better.
N.C. Wyeth, also marvelous.
Frederic Remington.

19th-century artists:
Frederic Leighton and Jules Joseph Lefebvre—it was these artists I was studying when I had the [New York Metropolitan Museum of Art] open its vault. I was with Reilly at this time.
Also William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Maybe among the very best artists of all time.

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