Monday, August 4, 2014
Did Mead Schaeffer Dislike His Best Art?
According to the article on Mead Schaeffer (1898-1980) in issue No. 45 of Illustration magazine, he was quoted as saying in 1945:
"I longed to do honest work, based on real places, real people, and real things -- work expressive of normal human emotions and activities. So, I did a right-about-face, and have never regretted it."
This was in reaction to painting "dudes and dandies, exaggerated sentiment, artificial romance, and love withe the endless 'he and she' pictures."
The images above reflect this change in attitude. The ones below are some of what I consider his better work done prior to his epiphany.
There is little question that Schaeffer was satisfied with his decision to change subject matter and, as it turned out, his style as well. But while he seemed satisfied, what about his audience and, in my case, his fan base?
To me, Schaeffer's appeal lies in his style -- the way he composed his scenes and, especially, his painting technique; subject matter is secondary. So far as I am concerned, his work from around 1940 onward was competently done, conventional, and not interesting to look at in most cases. Other contemporaneous illustrators could (and did) do pretty much the same sort of thing equally well. Very few in 1925-39 could equal Scheffer's work. Feel free to disagree in Comments.
(I wrote about Schaeffer here. A brief Wikipedia entry is here. A David Apatoff take can be found here. There is more about him here.)