Thursday, October 20, 2011

From the "Pyrite Age of Illustration"

The Decline of Illustration, by Thomas Craven, from American Mercury Magazine September to December 1927

"For fifteen years illustration enjoyed unprecedented popularity and the income of the artist in many cases exceeded that of the author."

"in an excess of phrenetic greed, soon departed from the decent standards of  the old school, and so debased drawing into the cheapest form of mechanical ingenuity—slippery, sentimental stuff designed for an audience which was, a few years hence, to feed its imagination upon the movies and the radio."

"The prices for heads in water-color, oil and pastel mounted to incredible figures.  …all of them stupidly drawn an offensive to readers of any taste."

"American publishers have been known to encourage authors and to nurse them to fame through several failures, but under no circumstances will they foster anything but the lowest pictorial talent."

"today the bottom has dropped out of the market. The leading American magazines have discarded illustration; most novels are published without pictures; most political cartoons resemble comic strips"

"In the first place, photography. The camera has debauched the appreciation of drawing and provided a swift and inexpensive means of pandering to the growing demand for literal scenes, portraits and naked surfaces."

"With photography I would, of course, include the moving picture and its attendant insanities—the mania for pictorial fodder of all sorts, but always in an unimaginative form—, and the tabloid newspapers, with their displays of domestic crimes and lubricities. The tabloid germ has spread to the baser magazines, some of which are illustrated with old "stills" purchased from the moving picture companies."

file under: Same as it ever was

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