“To live is to war with trolls” –Henrik Ibsen

In my view, there was no better draftsman in 20th century illustration than the great Robert Fawcett.

Some might look at this drawing for Good Housekeeping and dismiss it as “typical boring 1950’s photo referenced illustration.” (Oh, don’t deny it– you know who you are).

But let’s take a closer look:

Up close, the drawing reveals an extraordinary array of marks on paper, from drybrush swirls to bold, virile stripes. Who could squeeze more character into brushwork than Fawcett?

And did you notice Fawcett’s trees, like exploding constellations?

Always, design was paramount for Fawcett. Compare his trees above with the following “fine art” painting by the famous Adolph Gottlieb:
Here are a few more trees in the background of Fawcett’s drawing, each one crackling with its own distinctive energy:

And it ain’t just trees; Fawcett’s opinionated brush aggressively sought out the rhythm and design in houses, cars, glass and other geometric shapes:

Some regard Fawcett’s style as too tightly controlled for today’s taste, but at the atomic level his pictures are wilder and more abstract than the work of many contemporary artists who consider themselves free because they don’t use photographs.
For me, Fawcett is the more serious brand of anarchist.

Which brings me to the “warring with trolls” portion of this post:

Much of the special character of Fawcett’s picture was never seen by the public because it was shrunk and mutilated by some clueless art director at Good Housekeeping:

Good Housekeeping attempts to go trendy

To his credit, Fawcett persisted despite the fact that his work was not always understood by clients and advertisers flailing around for the latest fashion. It took Fawcett longer to achieve the kind of result he wanted, and he knew it might not be appreciated in the end, but apparently he did not find it to be a waste of time.

He held fast in the long war with trolls. For that reason alone, he deserves our respect.

(Thanks to Illustration House gallery for the use of their Fawcett illustration.)


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