Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Bernie Fuchs, a master of American illustration whose fresh perspectives and vibrant paintings changed the look and feel of published imagery, inspiring generations of artists to think and see in new ways. Mr. Fuchs’ influence ran deep, and his powerful artworks, borne of diverse methodologies and approaches, were enjoyed by millions who encountered his art at the turn of a page.
The following tribute to Bernie Fuchs was written by Museum Collections Consultant, Terrance Brown, a past director of the Society of Illustrators in New York, and longtime friend of the artist and his family.
Norman Rockwell Museum
Bernie Fuchs (1932 -2009)
Bernie Fuchs was to his generation what Norman Rockwell was to his. He was the artist whose next work was anxiously awaited by all other illustrators. He broke ground visually and compositionally, and spent his entire career painting the subjects he loved best: sports, jazz, travel and romance.
But Bernie had help. Illustration is a collaboration between the art director who needs to have a visual problem solved and an artist who needs to feed their creative juices. His images often incorporated interesting viewpoints along with his trademark dramatic lighting, with a thinned oil wash over a deft charcoal drawing as his medium. A unique approach to composition, inspired by so many reference photos, lay the groundwork for the drama that unfolds in the text, always secondary to his layout.
Bernie Fuchs grew up in southwestern Illinois, graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, and began his career creating car ads in Detroit in the late 1950s. He moved to Westport, Connecticut in 1958 and was soon the brightest star in the illustration world. He created over fifty features for Sports Illustrated, painted presidents, movie star, athletes, The Indy 500, the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, the races at Longchamps, English pubs, college bars, postal stamps and children’s books.
An era has passed. And the artist who was “the man” in that era would answer the compliment with a simple: “You are too kind.”