Winter 2018

The anti-Rockwell

Blechman pioneered a less-is-more aesthetic. His scratchy shorthand expresses ideas with a punchy surprise

During the 1940s and 50s, Norman Rockwell and the members of the ‘Famous Artists School’ of realistic, romantic and often saccharine editorial illustration ruled the roost. Before R. O. Blechman produced his earliest work, the typical narrative style of rigorously painted tableaux dominated American magazines and advertising from the late nineteenth century through to the 1960s. True, some of it was of high quality and many of its adherents’ work won the lion’s share of awards, lined the walls of New York’s musty Society of Illustrators and filled the pages of its competition annuals, but it was doomed to extinction…

‘Op-Ed’ illustration for The New York Times, Monday 11 February, 2013. Art director: Aviva Michaelov. Blechman was one of several illustrators used to offset the social critiques with subtle yet sharp graphic commentaries.
Top: A Museum Mile, poster, 1981. Blechman packs all the highlights of New York’s famous museum mile into one single image.


Steven Heller, design writer, New York

Read the full version in Eye no. 95 vol. 24, 2018


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