Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Time and Again

It's a fact of life that illustrators busy with looming deadlines sometimes resort to "borrowing" from the work of their peers, be it general inspiration, a certain detail, a pose or the whole piece.  Bolles himself was routinely swiped by other artists of his time and still is today, but I have yet to find a solid example where he swiped from another artist.  Granted, he often worked from photos and in some cases changed nary a thing, but he must have had some personal code about lifting ideas from artists, or at least other artists. 
Take a closer look above at this original from 1925--the only surviving painting I'm aware of among the 23 covers he completed for Judge magazine--and you immediately notice that time-telling detail.  And then we fast forward to 1937 and we see another Bolles girl checking if she's late for an appointment.  Bolles would revisit a number of themes  throughout his career. There was a time when I pondered just how he could possibly keep track of it all, considering he painted at least 663 magazine covers (and counting). He certainly could have benefitted from some system to keep from overgrazing the same territory, if nothing else.  But it doesn't appear he kept a ledger of his work and he certainly didn't keep many of his paintings around in his studio, although these two are still around.  My own theory is that it was all in his head. Bolles had an amazing memory, which included a rather freakish ability to recall (or perhaps calculate) the last time a date and day coincided in the calendar (and if you're curious, the last time December 3 fell on a Tuesday was just last year, but prior to that you'd have to go back to 2002).
But I digress. The fun thing about these examples is that you get to see Bolles' reinterpreting an idea in the context of the era and through his evolving style.  And if you want a closer look the Judge painting is going up for sale this weekend at Freeman's auction house.  And with that I'll bid her adieu.