We at the Pictorial love Earl Christy. And Rolf Armstrong. And McClelland Barclay. And R Wilson Hammell. And Charles Edward Chambers. And all of the other American artists from the early 20th century that made up advertising’s great, golden age of Illustration. Not only because of what they did for women’s journals and literary magazines but, of course, for the exquisite works of art created for American movie magazines. Photoplay, Modern Screen, Picturegoer, Screenland et al. Working largely from celebrity photographs, and in mediums such as oil and pastel, their work was firstly functional and not always … shall we say … artistic (hey, they had a hell of a workload, OK?) But when they were able to push the creative envelope, oh mama! The results were downright breathtaking.
According to the superlative website Grapefruit Moon, “The printing industry with its technological advancements and the American Industrial Revolution made for a multicolor offset printing process that was fast, affordable, and flat-out glorious in print. Cover artists were much in demand, earned lavish salaries and often became household names and stars in their own right.” Of course the likes of Norman Rockwell are venerated these days for their work, but today, for no reason at all, the Pictorial felt obliged to tip its hat to the illustrators of the great American movie magazines of yesteryear.
Below is a culled retrospective of some of our favorite eye-popping, sensational, drool-worthy illustrations of that explosively creative era.
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