Little bits of Weaver

Overview on Seeing is Not Believing: The Art of Robert Weaver
at the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA
November 8,1997- January 25, 1998>>

"stop being conceptual and get back to looking at things, at the observe light and color and pattern." Robert Weaver

Good article. Good insights including his teaching at Syracuse and School of Visual ARts for 30 years(who would have known), his use of different media and actually putting him in context with Jackson Pollock and Willem deKooning. I wonder where the 100 pieces of work reside?
I wonder if there is a catalog. I am going deep on this one.

Also, Leif Peng in his observant, beautifully written and illustrated Today's Inspiration blog talks about Robert Weaver in his February 26, 2008 post. He surfaces the Rockwell show, cites the link to Bernie Fuchs and observed interestingly:

"The article there confirms what I was saying yesterday about this new breed of illustrators having one foot in the commercial art studio and the other in the fine arts gallery when it states, "Weaver was among the first to wed fine art to applied illustration" and goes so far as to call him "the godfather of the new illustration."

I like it that Peng, an illustrator, poses questions relative to Fuchs and to Weaver, open ended queries that leaves me puzzled (charmingly so). Here is a link to Peng's Flickr set on Weaver>>

Steve Heller in his article " The End of Illustration" posted on the Illustrators' Partnership site
puts Weaver in a historical context of illustration and art:

By the mid-1950s modern painting influenced illustration, and a few young illustrators challenged the hegemony of the academic realists. The old school was known for slavishly, though meticulously, rendering exact passages from underlined texts (usually assigned by editors). Conversely, the young turks established moods through the expressive application of color and form in paintings and drawings that wed realism and abstraction. The human figure no longer had to be an exact replica; backgrounds did not have to be thoroughly researched; verisimilitude was not necessary for a successful image.The late Robert Weaver, one of the pioneers in the shift from neo-Rockwellian academicism to representational expressionism, explained that this was the beginning of a time when illustration was used to portray heretofore ignored themes and taboo notions.

Now the illustrator was required to express ideas rather than mimic verbatim scenes: "We had to show the notion of left-handedness and depict crime on the street," he once said, "not a couple on a date."

The "new" American illustration of the mid-1950s can be summed up in one word: Conceptual. Illustration evolved from what-you-see-is-what-you-get to conceptual because the issues and themes covered in magazines were becoming more complex, more critical. Although most neo-Rockwellian illustrations were based on a broad idea, these illustrators rejected illusion, metaphor, and symbolism in favor of the explicit vignette. Precise physical detail was more important than psychological enigma. Even Rockwell's own paintings, which were influenced by allegorical painting of the Renaissance, were precise scenes void of the ambiguity that invites a viewer's deep interpretation.

The younger artists of the 1950s, among them Weaver, Robert Andrew Parker, Phil Hayes, Al Parker and Tom Allen, not only painted in the automatic manner of the Expressionists, their images were designed to be deconstructed like poetry. By the late 1950s photographers vividly captured the surface of things, leaving depiction of the interior world to illustrators. As TV eroded popular interest in magazines, expressive and interpretative illustration offered alternative editorial dimension. Illustrators were given a key role in the phenomenon known as "The Big Idea," which was an extraordinary confluence of rational graphic design and acute visual thinking. The rise of conceptual illustration during the 1960s, furthermore, was marked by an unprecedented collaboration between illustrator and art director/designer because illustration was viewed as an element of design—but design was not only about simply making special effects on a page, it was about making messages. In the Rockwellian era, the art director would position the painting in a layout near the appropriate text. In the new scheme, art directors worked with illustrators on concept, composition and layout, as well. Either an illustration was integrated into a format or given its own page adjacent to an elegantly and sometimes metaphorically composed block of text. Conceptual illustration served two purposes: It provided meaning—and commentary— and gave a publication its visual personality.

Huh. Neo-Rockwellian obsolescence. Expressing ideas versus mimicking scenes. Meaning and commentary. I need to understand this. How? How do I do that? Can I do that? I am scared by this...BIG Idea indeed. And, as I am an art director...phooey on that! There is something here. My brain is kicking into something new.

Gathering of Hollywood Notables
Robert Weaver