Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Soul Sisters?

The recent issue of Vanity Fair has a wonderful feature about the illustrator, Robert McGinnis, who at 91 is still making beautiful art of gorgeous women. I'm sure many of you are already well aware of his work from iconic movie posters such as the early James Bond films and Breakfast at Tiffany's, as well as his scores of fantastic paperback covers featuring women who would never be mistaken for the work of another artist.  If not, check out his official web site.  One of the interesting quotes in the article was by the author and editor-at-large of Vanity Fair, Cullen Murphy. In his description of the McGinnis woman he says she: 
"shed the shackles of her time period. You can’t say that about the work of illustrators from the 20s, 30s, or 40s, or even from the 70s or 80s. The women they depict can easily be slotted into the right era. But a McGinnis Woman? She could stroll the most fashionable precincts of New York or London and Paris today and turn heads—but as a living being, not as some throwback. Can Rubens say that?”
I couldn't agree more, and am looking forward to Murphy's upcoming book about his father (who drew Prince Valiant) and his illustrator pals. I feel that the timelessness of McGinnis's women is also due in part to the cool factor imbued in his work. His well honed sense for women's fashion (at least when they are wearing any) from his book cover work from he 60s and 70s certainly reinforces this. And his women are tall, tall, tall and shapely in a very modelish way (although I don't think she ever posed for him, the model who comes to mind is Veruschka).  Even the men in his book covers-usually lurking in the background-pass modern muster in their Mad Men suits. 

But-and you knew this was coming-I am obliged to take (mild) umbrage at Murphy's conclusions about artists of the past. In support of my argument I submit Exhibit A, my favorite among all Bolles' covers. She made her appearance on the April 1935 issue of Film Fun. One of the things that initially attracted me to Bolles was that his women seemed so modern, both in appearance and attitude. The fact that Bolles' kept his finger on the fluctuating pulse of fashion does mean his work can often be tagged to the year of its publication, Yet I often get the feeling she's a modern woman dressed in a period costume. So while I may have a fantasy of dating a Bolles girl, I know she'll never be dated, if you know what I'm saying.