By David Apatoff
240 pages, hardcover, $44.95
Published by The Illustrated Press
Bernie Fuchs was one of the most successful, awarded and imitated illustrators in the second half of the twentieth century. Just take the cover of The Life and Art of Bernie Fuchs, which features the luminary’s haunting portrait of jazz musician Lil Hardin Armstrong; the artwork vividly displays Fuchs’s ability to capture a personality with just the right pose, the lushest light, and translucent colors that evoke an emotional response. Although illustration styles changed during his career, Fuchs (1932–2009) remains the only illustrator whose work was included in the Society of Illustrators’ annual selection of best work every year for more than 40 consecutive years. He remains the youngest illustrator ever elected to the Society’s Hall of Fame.
Author David Apatoff, an illustration scholar who knew Fuchs (pronounced Fewks), presents the artist’s childhood in O’Fallon, Illinois, as devoid of any artistic encouragement. When an industrial accident ended his dream of becoming a musician, Fuchs used the two-thousand-dollar compensation for his loss of three fingers to attend art school. Having had no art training and no painting experience, his art teacher taught him how to hold a pencil and draw.
During his prodigious career, which included images for advertising, sports, books, posters, murals and fine art, Fuchs constantly changed and adapted his approach, deeply influencing the course of illustration. His style and inclusion of unusual figures in unexpected poses led to commissioned portraits of presidents, politicians, and numerous athletes and entertainment figures. This book’s large format showcases the details and sensitive line work in Fuchs’s compositions, which are as fascinating as the history they represent. Bernie Fuchs is a must-have for champions of illustration. —Ruth Hagopian