Everyone Loves Illustration Art, But Where Does One See It?

September 29, 2014 5:26 PM

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Here's the problem: There is a growing recognition that the commercial work known as illustration art is an important part of American fine art. For instance, Debra Force, former head of Christie's American art department and now a private dealer in Manhattan of 18th, 19th and 20th century American art, claimed that she has sold works by illustrators Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle and others to "some of my collectors of American art. You see fewer distinctions between what people think of as fine and illustration art." The lowering of long-held and "snobbish" (in Debra Force's term) barriers between fine and illustration art has led important art collectors to buy works by illustrators - Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, J.C. Leyendecker and others - and display them amidst their more traditional American fine art holdings.

(This is where the problem part comes in.) Major museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery, are feeling the pressure to expand their definitions of American art to include works by important illustrators, but they've come to ...

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