Bernie Fuchs, born in a small coal-mining town during the Great Depression, had no art training as a boy and graduated from high school without ever painting a picture or knowing what an illustrator did. Soon after, he suffered a hand injury, losing three fingers in an industrial accident that threatened his ability even to hold a pencil. Ten years later, Fuchs became one of the top illustrators in America.
“Bernie Fuchs has had an amazing career that started in the mid 50s and he’s still going strong today,” says Robert Dorsey, associate professor in the School of Art at Rochester Institute of Technology. “He’s probably one of the most influential illustrator of all time.”
Fifty masterworks from the permanent collection of the Society of Illustrators in New York City will be on display in “An Historical Look at Visual Communication” at RIT’s Bevier Gallery. An opening reception is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 12, and the show runs through Jan. 21.
“The ‘pre-photography’ illustrator was a realistic image maker whose work was sought after to illustrate books and magazines, sell products in advertising and record history as sketch artists,” Dorsey explains. “Frederick Remington, Edward Penfield, Franklin Booth, Dean Cornwell and Howard Brodie fall under this category and are represented in the show.
“The exhibit also includes a piece by Howard Pyle, considered to be the father of American illustration and the founder of the legendary Brandywine School, which produced a generation of great illustrators.”
Other notables include James Bennett, Gary Kelley, Robert Parada and Joe Ciardiello who round out the roster of busy illustrators working today for publications such as Time, Readers Digest and the Atlantic Monthly.
“Overall it’s an impressive list of important artists and the variety of approaches and subject matter is stimulating,” Dorsey says. “I think our students will benefit greatly from having this exhibit on camps as nothing beats seeing the original work. It also reveals the importance of drawing, something we all stress in the School of Art.”
Bevier Gallery is handicapped-accessible and is located in the James E. Booth Building on RIT’s Henrietta campus. Regular gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday; 7 to 9 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 1 to 4:30 p.m., Saturday; and 2 to 4:30 p.m., Sunday. All exhibits are free. For more information, call the Bevier Gallery at (585) 475-2646.