Favorite Illustrations?


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There has long been a debate as to the merits of "fine art" vs "illustration": Is one inherently superior to the other? And if so, where do we draw the line between one or the other? Or... IMO... is "illustration" merely one possible function of art, the finest examples of which are every bit as fine as any other work of art?

Whatever your thoughts as to what "illustration" might be, I thought I'd start a thread where we can post our favorite works of illustration. I'll start with this lovely illustration/painting on the theme of the classic faerie tale, The Beauty and the Beast:


The Beauty & the Beast: Thomas Blackshear
My feeling exactly. It seems to me that any given work of art has a function... if not multiple functions... and one is not inherently superior to another. This for example:


... is part of a work of illustration... visually communicating to a largely illiterate audience the important narratives of the Bible. It is also a work of narrative art, a work of decorative art, etc... Architecture is art. The decorative mosaics and tiles in Byzantine and Islamic buildings are art. Ceramic vessels, stained glass windows, tapestries, suits of armor, musical instruments, clothing, carpets, quilts... any object in which the creator employed thought to the visual appreciation is art. How good or bad a work of art is... is another question altogether and can only be judged based on the work itself... and not its genre or purpose.
Let's post a couple (I promise! :LOL:) more illustrations that I quite like:


Twelve Days of Christmas- Gennady Spirin: a marvelous illustrator of children's books


The End of the End of Everything- Victo Ngai: I always find myself thinking of the classic murder/suicide "mad scene" from Gaetano Donizetti's opera, Lucia di Lammermoor with this "painting".
Why is it when people make some distinctions between things, they say it's snobbery? Who here has said that these differences were BETTER than the other? It's different, but equal. Different art have different uses. Different art have multiple categories, different styles, different genres. Different words have multiple definitions. It's not a black and white world.
OK... no takers yet? I'll continue with a few more favorite illustrations:


Alphonse Mucha: Poster for Austrian Pavillion of the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle
While the usual art historical narrative for the late 1800s spends most of its time examining the French Impressionists, Alphonse Mucha was actually the single most influential artist of the fin de siecle. His images and artworks and design influenced by him could be found across America and into the Americas. Reproductions of his posters can still be found on wrapping paper, greeting cards, candy boxes, and on the wall of college students.

10. DanceDark.650.jpg

Alphonse Mucha: The Muses-Dance


Marcos Chin: Kama Sutra
Marcos Chin, a leading contemporary illustrator recently participated in the creation of a sumptuous newly translated Kama Sutra.




K.V. (Kinuko) Craft: Sleeping Beauty


K.V. Craft: Cinderella
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a children's book illustrator. Illustration was actually more the path I initially intended to go when I applied to art school. At least a couple professors I met from the painting department criticized work I was doing as "illustrative," like this is necessarily a bad thing.

I am pretty sure that historical art being essentially illustrative and the move toward abstraction and away from the literary or illustrative is a big part of the theoretical grounding the professors I encountered were working in. They weren't really wrong in context of the art I was making and the way I thought at the time, but criticizing it as "illustrative" was unhelpful. I'm inclined to agree with what you're saying @stlukesguild but I would say the animosity depends on context. It's less of a thing as you get into Post-Modernism, where you have more questioning of those boundaries. And my experience studying printmaking was also more positive (though I did a lot more graphic art in the context of design vs illustration).

Sendak was one of the first illustrators I was really into, but it wasn't Wild Things that got me, it was his illustrations in the Little Bear books when I was five years old. Still very charming stuff:


Garth Williams is someone whose work I saw in lots of books growing up. He did the Little House on the Prairie books and also several other well-loved classics, like Charlotte's Web. Including A Cricket in Times Square, which was my favorite book when I was 8-9. His lines are less tidy, and I love the way he really got into the texture of hair and fur:


After that, Sir John Tenniel, one of the greats. Although we should probably give some due to the engravers that translated his work into print as well.


Is it "art"? That's a difficult question to answer. A lot of illustration functions in relation to the text or general concept being illustrated. They can be appreciated separately from that, but I'm not sure if they can function totally independent of the text. Even thinking "this is an illustration of X" matters. But it matters to lots of historical painting too. Reproduction and mass media also plays a role. It's definitely a kind of art.

Barry Moser is a more contemporary illustrator I like, who also has a reputation as a printmaker. Most of his illustrations are wood engravings that seem to stand alone quite well.

OK... no takers yet?
Intending to contribute. Just don't have the perfect specimen at my mind right now.
Love your approach on the subject and starting this thread. A lot.

Ah! Thinking of it:
Of course I do have perfect examples in mind.
For both - the unquestioned Artists who did illustrations (Botticelli for Dante; Burne-Jones for Chaucer; Beardsley [sp?] for Malory) - as well as the unacclaimed and mostly unknown illustrators of "whatever".
Yes, have them. Will have to take the effort to look them up, scan or download, edit, post. Soon. Maybe.
This thread is far too great to go without plenty of examples.
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One of my favorites of the classic old illustrators is surely Arthur Rackham. His illustrations often have a linear quality that reminds me of both Albrecht Dürer and Japanese art. I also quite admire his earthy sepia tonality... in spite of my own personal preference for saturated colors:





I also love Rackham in part due to a shared passion for faerie tales and classic tales such as Alice in Wonderland. I know Brian especially appreciates his illustrations of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen :LOL:





Maxfield Parish always left me kinda cold, personally. Which is not to say he didn't do some great work. I like the design of several of those pieces. And the colors.

Rackham on the other hand... I don't like his character design on the Alice books as much as Tenniel's, but his illustrations are so definitive it's unfair to compare. I like the way he rendered tree branches and water. I've borrowed lots from his work.

Harry Clarke is another illustrator of that era I love, mainly for his illustrations of Poe:



There's an illustrator who I've followed for years, Mel Kadel. I really love her work and she often uses an autobiographical character. I guess we have that in common, although, I like her work much more than I like my own, which is usually the case.




mel kadel 10l.jpg




Given that I could often be confused, not being able to distinguish what falls within fine art "or" illustration.
I love many examples of both and I don't have a great preparation.
I wondered about works like the second work published by SLUkesguild,
I was thinking about works like these, maybe Michael in the Sistine chapel, fine art works and even illustrations,
that is, many illustrations I think is fine art,
but it is true what you say, that there are various worlds in the worlds, genres,

yes, yes, comics were considered series b art, you were laughed at or beaten if you liked them, then the boom,
I mean there is a cauldron and that a lot depends on fashions,
I also think I don't know what I'm saying.

Let's move on to the artists and the works, everything you have published is wonderful.

I can think better of it and also add other works and artists,
I really like illustrations, various artists and there are so many of them in reality that I had marked myself perhaps to get to know their drawings better, and there were also books that I would have liked to buy but better if I do it with purchases so maybe they will end up on a list that will stay there.
FrazettaGirls Art Print Fine art print / Stretched on wooden bar / 18x24 Dusk Till Dawn Print

I didn't think of two works, but two illustrators,
I write about Frazetta, I choose these