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  • Steve Dininno

Museums and Magazines (Pt.1)

Being a long time illustrator as well as a painter & printmaker, I suppose it's natural for me to be drawn to artists from the past who followed a similar path. During the last decades of the 19th century and the first of the 20th, illustration was not the specialized field it was later to become. A great many painters and printmakers made their living "during the day" as illustrators. Some are extremely well known like Edward Hopper (who hated illustrating), John Sloan and George Bellows. Sloan and Bellows illustrated for a graphically adventurous American magazine titled: The Masses (which was published in the 1910s) as did other notable artists like Boardman Robinson.

Illustration for The Masses by Boardman Robinson (1916)

Illustration for The Masses by Boardman Robinson (1916)

Illustration by Edward Hopper (1899)

One of the most talented and accomplished of these "crossover" artists was Joseph Pennell. Not only was he a top shelf illustrator/painter/printmaker, but also an accomplished educator and author who wrote and illustrated books about various subjects. The history and processes of etching were oft-visited topics of his writing. One of the first books I read about printmaking was titled: "Etchers and Etching" by Pennell. The power of the reproduced work by Durer, Rembrandt, Whistler, etc. was expected. The real treat was reading Pennell's text and seeing his beautiful drypoints and mezzotints. If you can find the book on Amazon, Ebay, etc. I recommend you grab it.

Mezzotint by Joseph Pennell

Mezzotint by Joseph Pennell titled "The City Evening" (1909)

Pennell illustration for Our Sentimental Journey Made Through France and Italy (1888)

Lyonel Feininger is unique among this multi-disciplined group for his ability to achieve true greatness as both a fine artist and cartoonist. Watercolors and woodcuts by Feininger are a staple in every major museum's collection, yet his second life as a pioneer in the world of comics is largely unknown and unappreciated by museum-goers. Few know that he is on many short lists of the greatest cartoonists ever. His two masterpieces of comic art are The Kin-der-Kids and Wee Willie Winkie's World. I highly recommend viewing both his comics and fine art. There are lots of publications of both that can be gotten from Amazon, etc.

Lyonel Feininger's watercolor titled "The Church of Treptow on the Rega" (1933)

From The Kin-der-Kids comic strip by Feininger (1906)

I've just given a small sampling here, but there's more to come on this subject in my next posting! I hope you're enjoying it!

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