Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Admirable Artists: J.C. Leyendecker

My earliest memory with J.C. Leyendecker was back in my senior year of high school when I was involved in with designing posters for the Prom. With all manner of debate between students and staff in the school newspaper about whether or not bumping and grinding were acceptable forms of dance, regulations about showing skin and all manner of other subjects that made my stomach churn.  Wanting to feel good about promoting this event, I looked to convey some classic form of escapism as well as elegance. While skimming through a book at the library for ideas for another project, I stumbled across this picture and said "That's it!", and used the pose as a model for my poster and have been enamored with the man's style of art ever since.

I think the most striking part of his style is the structure of his figures. These a degree of cubism is the construction similar to Tamara de Lempicka. The shape of the clothing folds and highlights on the hair make the models look like they were sculpted out of some kind of metal. Facial features are streamlined in an idealized manner not too dissimilar from the Art Deco movement of the time, which for however still the model may be look, they still have a sense of momentum.

Then there's Leyendecker's command of color. I came into using color in my artwork rather late in the game, but when I do, I always come to his color for inspiration.

While many of his paintings were made to display strapping, powerful men and tall, graceful women in new designer clothing...

He could all convey humorous anecdotes through more rubbery expressions and looser poses, something Norman Rockwell cited as a key influence.

Next Week on Admirable Artists: Howard Pyle.

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