Saturday, January 1, 2011

Society of Illustrators Profile: Edwin Georgi

I think I'll start out the new year with a brand new feature focusing on that wonderful illustration art from some of our top American artists. Founded in 1901, The Society of Illustrators was created to promote the art of illustration in all its forms, hosting various projects by a dedicated group of volunteer members. Starting in 1958 the Society created the Hall of Fame Award recognizing the foremost American artists of the last two hundred years, including in this first feature, the 1992 award winner Edwin Georgi. After eighty long years, in 1981 this devoted group of art enthusiasts founded the Society of Illustrators Museum of American Illustration in New York City to exhibit the best in vintage and contemporary illustrative art to an appreciative world wide audience. But let us start off with one of my favorites artists...

A football star who studied engineering at Princeton, Edwin Georgi, left his studies when WWI started to become pilot for the U.S. Air Force. After the war, he got a job doing paste-up in the art department of an advertising agency, but seeing promise in the youth, art director Rene Clark encouraged Georgi to follow his own illustrative talent. Soon the artist was creating beautiful work for big name clients like the Hartford Fire Insurance Company, Stetson Hats, Yardley Soap, Studebaker, U.S. Steel, and Crane Paper, just to name a few. An artist who excelled in drawing beautiful women, the national magazine market took notice of Georgi in the late 1930s just as color was being introduced on a large scale.

Edwin's unique style coupled with his bold use of color had publishers calling for his dynamic pictures of elegant women in social settings which appeared in Collier's, McCall's, Redbook, Women's Home Companion, and Cosmopolitan. The artist's early works where characteristically done in muted subtle tones, but years later Georgi developed a new style done in a pointillist approach and vivid colors. Pushing the limits of realism with his short paint strokes of cool and warm colors, these high impact illustrations took advertising art to a new level on the printed page. A perfectionist who would often do his paintings over two or three times, Georgi also enjoyed composing and playing music in his spare time.


Michael Fraley said...

I remember seeing Georgi's work in old Saturday Evening Posts when I was a kid, but I didn't really learn to appreciate them until just a handful of years ago. It occurred to me, after staring at them long enough, that almost everything he did was based on a complementary colour scheme - purples and yellows, blues and oranges. Quite often, these colours made up his flesh tones as well. No wonder his work struck me as odd - he was working in a way that looked, on the surface, like a Jon Whitcomb or Coby Whitmore painting, but in his experiments with colour and the way his brush laid the paint down, he was really following his own piper.

Dave Karlen said...

Michael, Georgi's later use of bright colors in his illustrations is what I enjoy the most. I agree he is a wonderful artist. Thanks for posting.