Posts Tagged ‘JC Leyendecker’

Anyone in northern California, or it’s Central Valley, in the foreseeable future should make a detour to see the Leyendecker room at the Haggin Museum in Stockton. The Haggin is one of the few (possibly the only) American museum to recognize Leyendecker’s work as being artistically valuable, so it’s not surprising that they also have the largest collection by the artist.

Leyendecker, like his later colleague Norman Rockwell, is typically dismissed as a mere illustrator by modern hackademics and artless critics. An oft repeated criticism of these two men is that their work was commercially commissioned (as opposed to being their innermost expressive gestures of the soul untainted by the rot of avarice) and therefore not art. If we follow that flawed logic to it’s absurd conclusion, the Louvre should deposit the Mona Lisa in a trash bin since the painting was (unfortunately for it) a commissioned portrait — just like nearly everything by Titian and Rubens.

I don’t have the time in a single post to cover the full history or merits of J C Leyendecker, or America’s golden age of illustration. However, for the purposes of this blog it is relevant to point out that it was Leyendecker who gave us the iconic Arrow Collar Man. His stylized renderings of form and fabric are wonderful, at times even fetishistic, and celebratory of an ideal form of beauty for the era.

Note: the paintings which became magazine covers are medium sized easel paintings, oil on canvas; also on display are the series of lifesize children’s faces for Kellogg’s cereal ads.



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