J.C Leyendecker: America’s “Other” Illustrator is the title of an exhibition organized by the Haggin Museum in Stockton, California and currently on view at the City of Fullerton Museum in Fullerton, CA.
I’ve raved about Leyendecker before, and will continue to do so; both because I can’t resist the opportunity to post more of his amazing work, and because I continue to be baffled by the fact that his name is not a household word and that our kitchens are not lined with his calendars and our coffee tables not weighted down with mammoth books showcasing his work.
The obvious comparison is with Norman Rockwell, of course; and, while I certainly admire Rockwell, I hold Leyendecker in even higher esteem, and feel that his relative obscurity is a monumental oversight; as if, among Surrealists, Magritte was famous and Dali unknown. Rockwell himself was tremendously influenced by Leyendecker, and referred to him as “one of my gods”, setting him up as the mark for which he aimed his own accomplishments.
Sadly, the bookstore shelves are not bending under the weight of Leyendecker books, as they should be. There isn’t even a major one in print, though you can find some older ones if you search.
Exhibitions of Leyendecker’s work have been rare, but more attention is being paid to him lately, and shows like this one are welcome events. The exhibit started at the Haggin, traveled to the R.W. Norton Art Gallery and is now at the Fullerton. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find out where it will go next or if there are any scheduled stops on the East coast. (If anyone knows, I would appreciate the information.)
The Haggin’s own collection of over 50 original Leyendeckers, the largest collection of his works held by any museum, includes many uncommon subjects and unusual pieces, such as ink and wash drawings, military portraits and recruitment posters, and a wonderful assortment of kids eating Kellog’s cereal (image above).
I don’t know how much of the Haggin’s collection is included in the traveling exhibit, but you can see some of it displayed on their site, along with a more detailed description of the exhibition and an overview of the artist and his work. The site also includes a Quicktime Movie of an illustrated lecture about the artist by the museum’s director, Tod Ruhstaller (linked under the box containing the photo of Joe and Frank Leyendecker in Paris).
There is also a description and overview on Traditional Fine Arts Organization.
Unfortunately (perhaps deliberately), the images on the Haggin site are shot with odd angles and lenses, leaving them out of square, as in the image above.
Any Leyendecker is good Leyendecker, however, and I’ll continue to find any excuse I can to post his beautiful illustrations.
For more on Leyendecker, and links to other resources, see my previous articles listed below.
[Link via ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive]