Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ad hoc hack

Here's an illustration for a men's clothing company that I am dead certain was composed and painted by Bolles and equally sure was overpainted by another artist. Now, perhaps you aren't convinced it's a Bolles (and initially I wasn't) but there are some compositional giveaways and other clues. Most telling; take a look at this original sketch by him for the same company and I think you'll see why I came around. So the big question is why would you mess with a good illustration. One of my theories is that an editor used one of Bolles' unfinished sketches and had it embellished by another artist. Or perhaps it was a completed composition that an editor was unhappy with and instructed another artist to give it a more painterly look. Who knows, but what I am sure is that the overpainting isn't by Bolles. It's just too muddy and unassured in spots, particularly the weave pattern on the rattan chair. That's the very type of repetitive detail that Bolles would have nailed down to geometric precision. The woman's shawl is another problem. The folds in the wrinkles follow Bolles style but they are muddy in execution. I kind of like the detailing of the older gent's face but his hands are another matter.
....
So who can truly say why this ad was subjected to another artist's reworking. Back then, advertising exec's were vocal in their assertion that illustration should be considered on a par with fine art, or what they called"art-art". Accordingly, they were forever chasing the newest trend in fine art. Perhaps Bolles was a victim of this trend and his precise illustrative style fell out of favor. But let's hope today's example is the exception and not the rule.

5 comments:

Li-An said...

Well, I'm not convinced as you are. This kind of composition is very usual in US advertisement in the period.

Jack R said...

I should have added that Bolles had an extensive relationship with this company and did at least 20 other posters for them. I also have have about 15 other examples of original comprehensive sketches that have very similar imagery. But you're right, this was pretty standard as far as the era.

Thomas said...

The artist is Samuel Nelson Abbott

Jack R said...

I've noticed this stylistic connection for a long time and similar as they may look I still have my money on Bolles (though I'm not about to bet the house). For one, Abbott and Bolles worked for different clothing manufacturers and I think if anything, Abbott's brush work was as or more precise and Leyendecker-like than Bolles.

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