Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Another Bolles sighting!


Those of you who have followed this blog know that when when on the road, my spidey-sense is open for a potential Bolles sighting. During a recent trip to Columbus, Ohio I happened to be in a tattoo shop (more like the tattoo equivalent of an Apple store) when I got that familar tingle rising in the back of my skull. Take a look and see if you can find what set it off. 

I bet you found it. This image might be contemporary, but to me it looks more like it came off a vintage tattoo flash sheet.     

And here's the source, a classic Film Fun cover from 1936. If you were were forced to pick a Bolles to swipe from the 580 covers (my current count) he painted, you'd be hard pressed to come up with a better choice.  

Later during the trip I stopped by the fabulous Columbus Art Museum and wouldn't you know it, the tingling started up again and led me to this painting. No one would confuse her wtih a Bolles girl but once I read the name on the placard I understood the connection. 

In addition to being an important early 20th Century artist, Robert Henri was an influential art instructor. For a number of years he taught at the famous Art Students League in New York City, and among his many notable students was our man Enoch. Now having said this, Bolles was not a particularly fond of the great teacher's opinionated and demanding ways. In a letter Bolles wrote many years later he lamented that: " you were forced to become a little Henri or you were just ignored".  But having said this I do see some influence by Henri on Bolles' earliest work. Here's the Bolles image that comes to mind. It's just his second published cover, done in 1914, at the very time when Enoch was taking night classes at the League.
You can't but notice the similarities: the restrained palette; the dark but not quite back background; the loose brushwork. But take a look at the next cover Bolles did for Judge five months later. The Bolles stylistic DNA dominates the painting. It was only his third magazine publication, but I don’t think it's too much a stretch to conclude that Enoch said “enough!”.  And I we can all be grateful for that.