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Celebrating Illustration, Design, Cartoon and Comic Art of the Mid-20th Century

Daniel Schwartz: "Bold innovative illustration style"

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tom Watson conludes his look at the illustrations of Daniel Schwartz.

This final day of observing Daniel Schwartz’s bold innovative illustration style, emphasizes the consistent quality he displays in every assignment. Schwartz the fine artist, and Schwartz the illustrator, effectively unify without conflict or incompatibility.


The above illustration, probably done around 1960 or 61, for a story in McCall Magazine, is one of my all time favorites of Daniel Scwartz. For me, it has all the ingredients... interesting composition, nice mix of warm and cool colors, mood development and exciting surface texture. His soft overall color scheme, with a woman deep in her own thoughts, sets the mood for this intriguing illustration. Schwartz uses his effective combination of thin oil washes and opaque lighter values to define shape and form in a collection of nostalgic elements. Notice the very loose sketchy treatment to those elements, while the figure is given more clarity and importance. During the 1950’s and before, this would more likely be the appearance of the color rough submitted for final approval. But, Schwartz uses his fine art influence and experience, in making it work as the finish. One of the radical changes in illustration was an evolution from accurate defined literal interpretation, to spontaneous expressive brushstrokes, enhancing the mood, and giving it a poetic atmosphere.


This was a courtroom assignment for Life Magazine in 1971 for the military hearing of Lt. William Calley Jr’s account of the Mylai massacre, during the Viet Nam War. With his varied capabilities as a fine artist / illustrator, it is not surprising to me that Schwartz was selected to illustrate these hearings. This becomes an ideal assignment for an illustrator, since photographers and video cameras are generally not permitted. This was a very high profile hearing, and obviously the assigned illustrator cannot purposely inject his personal feelings into the illustrations. The challenge is to be objective, and record the essence and general mood, transporting the reader to the event.


These transparent watercolors became the defining technique that Schwartz adopted, in the late 60’s. I don’t recall other high profile illustrators using this particular technique at that time, and if there were some, they put their own spin on it. The first illustration is quite complex, depicting the whole court room, displaying the key players... then shown above, he uses a vignette depicting profiles of six officers to hear the accounts. The well defined features, with astringent expressions, reflect the seriousness of the hearings. Schwartz artistically allows his paint to drip off the bottom edge of each illustration... an effect that was virtually not seen in illustrations, to my knowledge, prior to 1959 or 60. The drips effectively break up the hard edge bordering the illustration... a technique, not uncommon with fine art watercolor painters.


The illustration above is a good example of Schwartz’s ability to sketch on the spot, with a combination of accuracy and artistic flair. This is journalistic illustration at its best, in my opinion. As depicted in yesterday’s posts of the “Fallen Angels”, Schwartz was no stranger to sketching on location, and from what I gather from very good sources, he preferred that direct contact. His use of color in these last 2 spot illustrations, is limited but quite effective. They remind me of graphic sketches of the old masters, with their casual sepia tone washes... which no doubt Schwartz was quite aware of.

After the 70’s, I don’t recall seeing his illustrations in magazines, but he is currently doing easel paintings for galleries, and it appears he has gone back to oils, depicting less detail. Click the URL below, and you can see examples of his work today: Daniel B Schwartz.com

6 comments

  1. Tom, you've done a great job this week, highlighting Daniel Schwartz. That piece you singled out today as your favorite really is beautiful. His fallen angel series is my personal favorite -- his work reminds me a lot of the caricaturist David Levine's paintings. Are you familiar with them?

    Again -- great job. Leif has set high standards, & you more than met them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Neil, I truly appreciate your flattering comment, and glad you enjoyed Daniel Schwartz's work. Yes, I am familiar with David Levine's work, and I agree with you. David Levine, Daniel Schwartz, Herb Steinberg, Albert White, Sheldon Fink, Aaron Shikler, Harvey Dinnerstein, Julian Fishburne, Burton Silverman and Stewart Kaufman became good friends in the 60's, and started showing together at the Davis Gallery in N.Y., City. Their goal as a group, was to try and keep realism alive during a push toward abstraction in the fine arts world. Unfortunately their efforts to continue and show as a group faded, as they drifted apart and found other interests.

    Tom Watson

    ReplyDelete
  3. Harry Borgman3:22 PM

    Hi Tom,
    That was great work that you showed this week, I can't get enough, how about another week ? I'm a real fan of Daniel's paintings.
    I checked out his web page and he has some really beautiful art there, I recommend everyone take a good long look. It's wonderful to see that he is still active, at the top, and still going as strong as ever.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks again Harry,

    Schwartz's illustrations came to me like a clap of rolling thunder, every time I saw one. Unfortunately, that's all the clipped illustrations of Schwartz that I hung on to. My entire clip file became so fat, and I was only using less than a quarter of all the stuff I would save for research and inspiration. Over the last 20 years I had to a pare it dow to a manageable size, and now I wish I had some of it back.

    Besides, I don't want Leif to become too complacent with idle time on his hands ... ha!

    Tom Watson

    ReplyDelete
  5. I own a beautiful oil painting by Schwartz of Yankee Stadium, world series, with Don Larsen on the mound.
    Signed by Schwartz, Dec 1960. I need to sell this. Do you have any suggestions for who I might contact? Happy to send a scan.
    Also want to sell a wonderful tugboat oil by Sheldon Fink, same era.
    Thanks.
    Mara

    ReplyDelete
  6. If you would like me to send you jpgs of the two paintings mentioned below to share on your page I am happy to do so. Both are exceptional.
    Best,
    Mara


    I own a beautiful oil painting by Schwartz of Yankee Stadium, world series, with Don Larsen on the mound.
    Signed by Schwartz, Dec 1960. I need to sell this. Do you have any suggestions for who I might contact? Happy to send a scan.
    Also want to sell a wonderful tugboat oil by Sheldon Fink, same era.
    Thanks.
    Mara

    ReplyDelete

 

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