Thursday, February 28, 2013

Illustration Art - The Kelly Collection

by Donato

This past weekend found me in Los Angeles attending events hosted by a wonderful fan club,, related to the celebration of the Oscars and the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien.  Sad to say, The Hobbit; An Unexpected Journey did not land any awards, but that did not prevent me from coming home to Brooklyn - inspired, energized and reflective on my time there.

In between my time at an art show Friday night and a party on Sunday, my friend and ex-assistant  Eric Bouffard shuffled me around town in a whirlwind of voyeuristic delights (Eric was my first assistant over ten years ago and is now a Senior Digital Matte Painter at Dreamworks).  Our first stop Saturday morning was at the Los Angeles Public Library where murals of Dean Cornwell and two other artists numbed our eyes.  The complexity and color balances of the Cornwells were stunning, and appeared to be recently cleaned so much so that they looked to be painted yesterday.

Dean Cornwell Mural   Los Angeles Public Library
Dean Cornwell Mural   Los Angeles Public Library
 After absorbing the murals and a few bites, we were off to Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA for an amazing show of turn of the century illustration art, Illustrating Modern Life: The Golden Age of American Illustration from the Kelly Collection.  This show was a block buster, with paintings from Dean Cornwell, Harvey Dunn, N.C. Wyeth and Howard Pyle.  It was great to compare and contrast the early Dunns against one another as well as doing so with the Cornwells.  The show is a testament to the great eye Mr. Kelly has for picking the best of these artists.  Below are a few of my favorites from the exhibition.  If you are in the area, it is well worth the trip and price of admission (Free!) to see such craftsmanship laid out all under one roof!


Howard Pyle

Sarah Weber

Harvey Dunn

Dean Cornwell

NC Wyeth


  1. it must have been breath taking to see a Wyeth in person. i'm not sure if i'd faint or cry.

  2. These paintings are great! I wish there was something like this to see here where I live...

  3. It would be great if this was a touring exhibition. I live in Western Australia and I had never heard of these artists until a year ago when I studied in America. I know for sure that my little part of the world would definitely benefit from a visit by these great paintings.

  4. I am a HUGE fan of Pyle, Wyeth, Dunn and especially Cornwell.
    I always thought it was interesting that Cornwell wanted to be immortalized by doing so many murals but I feel it made him much less accessible to a wider audience.
    There has been a painting of Cornwell's titled "the procession of devotees followed the image into the flood" that I love and I can't even find a decent image of it online. (Warning: if you search for it online be prepared to see some graphic imagery of other images.)

  5. Woah! I haven't heard of Sarah Weber before, and she's great! I tried googling her, but my searches only find modern day Sarah Webers who aren't this artist. Anyone have a link to more of her work?

  6. A closer inspection of the photograph shows that her full name is Sarah Stilwell Weber, try that, it yielded some results for me!

  7. He has a fine collection....absolutely stunning.

    Btw, the painting of the woman with the leopards, McClelland Barclay I believe, was recently restored to it's former glory, as they say. But get this:

    The old canvas back was REPLACED. They put it face down on a vacuum platen to hold the painting in place, then chemically removed the old canvas from the back of the gesso. They then re-backed the painting with fresh canvas (or linen, not sure). It now has brand new support.

    It was a $10,000 process, I'm told.


  8. oops....I suppose that was Sarah Webb....

  9. went and saw them. cried the whole time.

  10. Amazing show. Thanks for posting about it.


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