American children’s illustrator and political cartoonist John Barton Gruelle was born on Christmas Eve 1880. He created the comic strip Mr Twee Deedle, (which briefly ran alongside Little Nemo In Slumberland in the New York Herald), but he is best known for the hugely popular character Raggedy Ann who appeared in a series of children’s books and was later turned into toys, films and animated TV shows.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to look at these Advent daily drawings. It’s been an enjoyable and I think worthwhile exercise for me, I hope it’s been interesting for you. Merry Christmas!
A very happy birthday to Otto Soglow, born in New York 110 years ago today. Otto was a cartoonist, best remembered for his creation The Little King, which ran first in The New Yorker, then in Randolph Hearst’s King Features Syndicate. Lambiek has an overview of his comic strip career, and this gallery has examples of his cartoons used in advertising campaigns of the 1940s and 1950s.
American painter Jean-Michel Basquiat would have been 50 today. Originally a graffiti artist working under the tag SAMO©, Basquiat was also involved in the New York music scene (he can be seen as a DJ in the Blondie video Rapture, dated Madonna and worked with David Bowie). He began exhibiting in 1980 and gained attention rapidly. He collaborated with Andy Warhol from 1982 until 1986, the year before both artists died.
It was fun drawing Basquiat on a larger scale than I’m used to, and in the snow. I know New York Winters are a lot colder than this, but still, it was chilly enough to keep me focused on finishing quickly. It was also the shortest day of the year and the light was fading. Here are some shots of the drawing taking shape.
French history painter Thomas Couture was born 195 years ago today in Senlis, France. His masterpiece, the huge Romans in the Decadence of the Empire (1847, below) is one of the more spectacular works in the Musée d’Orsay. Some more information and examples here.
Happy birthday Slovene realist painter Ivana Kobilca, born 20 December 1861. Ivana worked in several cities across central and western Europe, specialising in portraits and still life. The National Gallery of Slovenia’s website has a selection of her paintings available to view at a good size. The portrait below, Holandsko Dekle (A Dutch Girl), was painted around 1890.
American painter and printmaker Nathan Oliveira, who sadly died this year, is one of several fascinating artists I have discovered as a result of this drawing project. He was part of The Bay Area Figurative School which abandoned abstract expression in favour of figuration. The New York Times has a slideshow of some of his works. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has a video of the artist talking about the series. His last project was a series of large paintings inspired by The Windhover, a poem by Gerard Manley-Hopkins. The oil reproduced below is The Windhover IV, 1991-94.
Many happy returns to British artist Jonathan Yeo, who is 40 today. Jonathan is a self-taught painter whose portraits in oil include subjects like Tony Blair and Rupert Murdoch (below). However it was his collage portrait of George Bush jr. which brought him notoriety, being composed of fragments of pornographic magazines. Examples of both painting and collage can be found at the artist’s website.