Thursday, 22 October 2015

Does Illustration even Exist?

Edward Lucie-Smith in “Homage to Leonard Baskin” makes this powerful statement about the artist Leonard Baskin:

“I must point to the fact that Baskin’s preoccupation with words, his love of literature, make him not
Leonard Baskin: Hanged Man (1962) Woodcut
only a marvellous printmaker but perhaps the best illustrator of our time – something slightly different, since it implies not only the power to create images but the power to penetrate a text”

It is as if Lucie-Smith is saying that the meaning of the words connects directly with the meaning of the illustration but so appropriately that they become one. The words ‘power to penetrate’ embodies the text with some deeper form of expression into which the visual penetrates. It implies a form of pictorial resonance of the words, a true representation of the expression behind the meaning of the composition.

The implication in this exert also highlights that illustration is 'something slightly different' and is ultimately bound to a relationship with text. The narrative element of the text whether liner or abstract is lending elements to the image and therefore making it an illustration. But does Baskin's style of illustration not simply demonstrate the mirror of his own personal emotions and experiences?

This for me says a lot about the role of the illustrator. Baskin’s style is an integral part of his expression. Does an illustrator have to hide the inner expression to create a truly representative illustration or does his style need to match the emotional ties of the text, a match that either author or illustrator may identify.

When an artwork, that for many is not an illustration, is created does it not have a narrative? In fact does illustration even exist or is it a word used to identify an artwork with a narrative?

Lucie-Smith, E. Homage to Leonard Baskin. (1982) Reading Museum and Art Gallery: Reading

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