Published: June 19, 2001
SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. – Before movies and television dominated our visual culture, illustrations in books and magazines played a critical role in shaping the minds and imaginations of broad audiences. This summer the Santa Barbara Museum of Art presents the special exhibition “Every Picture a Story: American Illustration from the Delaware Art Museum,” on view July 14 through October 14.
“Every Picture a Story” features over 80 works by the great artists of American illustration, tracing the evolution of this art form, considered “the most American of American art.” The Delaware Art Museum, whose collection of original drawings for books and magazines covers more than 140 years of American art history, has organized this major exhibition.
Often referred to as “The Golden Age of American Illustration,” this era begins in the 1880s, when illustration became an important feature of periodicals, and continues until the early 1930s, when the motion picture became firmly established as the preferred form of popular entertainment. As illustration developed, talented artists elevated the stature of illustrators and their profession to the world of art.
The artists represented in “Every Picture a Story” were the leaders in the field of illustration at the turn-of-the-century. Included are Howard Pyle, who set the standard for illustrations of historical romance and adventure (Robinson Crusoe, Kidnapped, etc…) and his contemporaries Edwin Austin Abbey, Arthur B. Frost, Edwin H. Blashfield, Howard Chandler Christy, Joseph C. Leyendecker, and Charles Dana Gibson. Pyle’s distinguished students, including the famed N.C. Wyeth, Gayle Hoskins, Jessie Willcox Smith, Elizabeth Shippen Green, and Frank Schoonover are also represented with important examples of their work.
Today, the current reassessments of the prevailing view of artistic hierarchies and the canon of “acceptable” art have opened our eyes to the importance of artists and art forms long out of fashion. Among these revisions is a new appreciation for the work of the great illustrators of America, the artists whose work in their time, skillfully created a visual narrative that gave the viewers a sense of action, time and place, linked to European art traditions, but also distinctly different. “Every Picture A Story” offers a tremendous opportunity to experience the marvelous images that captivated the imagination of millions, and played a vital role in sculpting the American identity of the Twentieth Century.
“Every Picture a Story: American Illustration from the Delaware Art Museum” will precede and overlap the exhibition “Destined for Hollywood: The Art of Dan Sayre Groesbeck” (8/25-1½5). Groesbeck began his career as an illustrator, gradually transforming his visual story-telling skills from books and periodicals, to vast historical murals, and finally to become a Hollywood giant, as one of the favorite artists of Cecil B. DeMille.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is located at 1130 State Street. Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday 11 am to 5 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm, and Friday 11 am to 9 pm. For information, 805-963-4364, or visit www.sbmuseart.org.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm