Friday, October 12, 2007

ONE LOVELY DRAWING, part thirteen

The illustrator Bernie Fuchs erased this lovely drawing in 1964

1964 was the beginning of an era of bold experimentation in the United States. The Beatles and Bob Dylan were revolutionizing popular music; Martin Luther King won the Nobel prize as the civil rights movement gained momentum; humans were orbiting the earth and headed for the moon; Cassius Clay became the heavyweight champ and changed his name to Muhammad Ali; clothing and hair styles became adventurous; and all across America, students began protesting the war in Vietnam and experimenting with meditation or mind expanding psychedelic drugs.

In this climate, Look magazine commissioned Fuchs to create portraits of the leading civil rights leaders of the day. Fuchs began with the sensitive pencil portrait above. Then he paused, erased the drawing and turned the illustration board upside down. Starting fresh, he selected a large crayon and used slashing purple lines to come up with this much larger and bolder version:

You can still see the traces of the original discarded drawing below his signature.

The final version published in Look magazine was bolder still, a strikingly innovative work .

Welcome to the 1960s!