Monday, March 7, 2016

In the Beginning: John La Gatta

John La Gatta (1894-1977) was a very successful illustrator whose career peaked in the 1930s. I devoted this post to his Golden Years work.

There was more to his career than that, of course. So this post deals with some of his illustrations made before the late 1920s when his fame was taking hold.

La Gatta loved to depict women. Many of his illustrations included men, but they almost always played a supporting role to gorgeous females. However, when he was getting started in illustration, men were usually his subject matter, and it took much effort on his part to persuade art directors that his interest and talent were focused elsewhere.


Life magazine cover - 5 August 1915
La Gatta did do some illustrations featuring women from the start. This poster-style art was painted when he was about 21 years old.

Soap advertisement - 1917
A conventional illustration here, no sign of La Gatta's characteristic style yet.

Soap advertisement - c. 1918
Many artists, La Gatta included, had trouble correctly drawing British-type "tin hat" helmets that Empire and American forces used.

Varnish advertisement - c. 1918
Another Great War related advertisement. La Gatta is using his "masculine" style necessary for industrial clients such as Pratt & Lambert.

Streetcar scene - about 1920 or before

Ivory Soap advertisement - 1920
Again, pre-classical La Gatta style.

Fashion art - 1922
By 1922 he was able to focus more on female subjects. La Gatta did a good deal of fashion-related illustration during the 1920s and early 30s.

Illustration from 1924
This is close to La Gatta's style with line work supplemented with washes. The subject's feet aren't quite positioned correctly, being a bit far to the left of her head for proper balance; in real life, she might fall down.

Photoplay magazine illustration - January 1925
Ten years after the Life cover shown above, La Gatta is hitting his stride.

Swimsuit ad art for A.G. Spalding & Bros. - 1926
He usually worked with models, but I have to suppose he managed this illustration using photographs or a lot of good imagination.

Stirling Silversmiths advertisement - 1926
He is still in a transition zone in 1926: these women aren't quite as La Gatta -like as the girl in the bathing suit a couple of images above.

No comments: