Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Peter Arno: Where There's a Will..., Part 2

The reading of the will was featured in an exceptional Peter Arno New Yorker cartoon from 1939. The original artwork was sold in 2013 by a small auction house. Appearances suggest the listing did not trouble to reproduce the long caption aside from the difficult-to-read handwriting in the photographs. The artwork sold for about one-third its estimate.
"First then:  the bulk of my estate, excepting certain specific
bequests as hereinafter noted, I leave to my true friend and
companion, one of God's noblest creatures..."
Peter Arno, Original art, The New Yorker, December 2, 1939, page 23

Note how the dark colors of mourning are contrasted with the white of the dog. The clever use of two-point perspective allows two sets of lines to lead our eyes to the dog, one from the attorney's chair and feet aligned with the aisle and the other joining the mourner's feet in the front row. If that's not enough, the mourners' eyes are all directed at the same spot.

The art is nicely framed, but a more legible caption would be welcome:

"First then:  the bulk of my estate, excepting certain specific bequests as hereinafter
noted, I leave to my true friend and companion, one of God's noblest creatures..."

Peter Arno, Framed original art, The New Yorker, December 2, 1939, page 23

Detail

Detail


Locati Auctions, October 21, 2013, Lot 1013162




"First then:  the bulk of my estate, excepting certain specific bequests as hereinafter
noted, I leave to my true friend and companion, one of God's noblest creatures..."

Peter Arno, The New Yorker, December 2, 1939, page 23


Note:  On Sunday, this blog's brief excursion into the reading of the will began with cartoon variations by the late Frank Modell, 1917-2016. In his obituary, the Times writes, "Mr. Modell took pleasure in mocking mortality in his work."

This blog offers a lot more about Peter Arno and about original New Yorker cartoon art. Ask for it by name.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Peter Arno: Where There's a Will...

The reading of the will to stunned relatives is a time-honored cartoon trope. Peter Arno does not disappoint with the drawing published in the New Yorker on May 16, 1942. Being able to see his original artwork offers insights into the process of creating the cartoon, but there is a serious problem in the image provided by Bill Hood & Sons, which sold the work in 2008. They have gotten the aspect ratio wrong. The photograph, which should be rectangular in portrait orientation like the full page of a magazine, is instead distorted into a square.

At least we can read the original caption written across the top. "Well, what do you know? You're [sic] dear grandfather seems to have left everything to me!" Grandfather is not a great choice here, given the different ages of the family members. The published caption is a bit tighter and uses a rich uncle instead:  "My goodness! Your dear old uncle seems to have left everything to me."

Arno was a master at composing and lighting his scenes. This scene is read from right to left. The lines of site, the family members' arms, and the curtain tie-backs all direct our gaze to the lawyer on the right. The lamps and especially the curtains frame his head. This scene is set in a dark study with two unlit lamps. The light source is from the right behind the attorney and it starkly illuminates all the family members. Paradoxically, the attorney's face is illuminated from the left.

"Well, what do you know? Your dear grandfather
seems to have left everything to me."
Published as "My goodness! Your dear old uncle seems to have left everything to me."
Peter Arno, Original art, The New Yorker, May 16, 1942, page 14

Peter Arno's signature

Bill Hood & Sons Art & Antique Auctions, March 26, 2008, Lot 2211



"My goodness! Your dear old uncle seems to have left everything to me."
Peter Arno, The New Yorker, May 16, 1942, page 14


Note:  Yesterday, the reading of the will took place in a series of cartoon variations by the late Frank Modell, 1917-2016.

My earlier blog posts about Peter Arno are just a click away. I have, at most, one or two weeks left of blog posts on this great artist, but I would be delighted to incorporate more Arno material from readers. Correspondence, photos, and of course original artwork are fair game.

Works of original New Yorker cartoon art may be found here as well. It's a specialty of the house.

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Frank Modell (1917-2016)

New Yorker cartoonist Frank Modell died Friday at age 98. In a tribute published on Ink Spill yesterday, cartoonist Michael Maslin called him "a cartoonist's cartoonist." He was also a collector's cartoonist, happy to provide the art market with work that was sometimes more delightful than even his published cartoons.

For example, an original cartoon of his was shown at the Westport Historical Society on April 25, 2014. It looks for all the world like a New Yorker cartoon, but it is actually a close variant of one. The topic, as it happens, is the reading of a will.
"The will reads as follows: 'Being of sound mind and disposition, I blew it all.'"
Frank Modell, Variant cartoon art, The New Yorker, February 5, 1972, page 31



Now a similar drawing of his was sold back in 2013 from the Mark Birley collection at Sotheby's London. It went for the astonishing sum of 4000 GBP, although it too is not the published New Yorker drawing, but another variant.
"His will reads as follows.  'Being of sound mind and disposition, I blew it all.'"
Frank Modell, Variant cartoon art, The New Yorker, February 5, 1972, page 31


Sotheby's London, March 21, 2013, Lot 491


After seeing and admiring these two versions of the drawing, the actual published cartoon looks more like a rough sketch. It's hard to imagine either of the other versions being preliminary to this. They most likely are redraws of the published cartoon created to meet the demand of eager collectors.

"His will reads as follows.  'Being of sound mind and disposition, I blew it all.'"
Frank Modell, The New Yorker, February 5, 1972, page 31


Frank Modell leaves a legacy which includes much joy. His website features a print of his clown signature...
Modell's Dancing Clown print


...and on eBay there is an example of his dog signature:
Frank Modell's dog signature


Note:  Ink Spill's tribute to Frank Modell mentioned above and older posts can be found here.

Attempted Bloggery's previous posts about Frank Modell are here.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #523

Here is my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #523 for May 23, 2016. The drawing is by Joe Dator.

"We can't return them. I didn't keep the barrel."


I also monkeyed around with these captions:
"Admit it:  they're more fun than visiting your mother."
"EBay."
"Amazon."
"Just our rewards points."



May 30, 2016 Update:  The Finalists



June 13, 2016 Update:  I voted for the third caption.


June 20, 2016 Update:  Winning Caption




Note:  Last week, Harry Bliss took us into Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory. My caption needed to be reanimated. See the horrific outcome of Contest #522.

Posts about cartoonist Joe Dator are more fun than a...well, you know. Hot patootie, bless my soul! I really love his podcast too!

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Peter Arno: La Vie Parisienne

The worldly Peter Arno wants you to know your way around Paris. Note how well he handles the lighting of this after-dark street scene and how distinctly out of place the American couple at the center of this image appears.



Swann Galleries, January 22, 2015, Sale 2372, Lot 191, Hammer Price
With Buyer's Premium


"We've lost our tour."
Peter Arno, The New Yorker, July 4, 1953, page 30
Spot drawing of a dog by Abe Birnbaum


Note:  How many blogs do you think can give you a tour of original New Yorker cartoon art? I promise you won't get lost.

If I'm counting right, there are 67 previous blog posts here which mention Peter Arno. Have a look at any or all of them, but remember:  I can't keep this up forever. If you'd like to share any original art, correspondence, photos, or obscure Arno publications, get in touch—and soon!

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Peter Arno: Santa's Close-Up

Peter Arno's 1965 Christmas season cartoon "Hi, Kitten. This is Oogie" is in some ways the slightest of gags, a play on our expectations about names and relationships. Preliminary artwork sold at Swann Galleries in January seems almost press-ready, with a pencil notation to "Leave Phone-booth slightly tilted—as it is!" Oogie, dressed for work as Santa, sports a mod pair of sunglasses, a gentle reminder of the tumultuous changes in fashion already taking place at mid-decade.

It is surprising, then, to see the editorial change of heart that took place before publication. Arno, who could handle a full page in the magazine like no other artist, instead zooms in on his Santa in the phone booth, presenting a smaller, more intimate space. The crowd, the buildings, the Salvation Army kettle, even the sunglasses, are gone from this version. The gag has been reduced to its bare bones, and it's hard not to feel something has been lost along the way.

Nevertheless, Arno knows how to keep his figure dynamic. The full standing Oogie is posed with one folded arm and with crossed legs. Arno alters the pose in close-up, creating new angles and diagonals at the arm, shoulder, and abdomen, accentuated by the loss of the overcoat. In this way, he maintains some tension in the figure even at close range.

"Hi, Kitten...this is Oogie..."
Peter Arno, Preliminary artwork
The New Yorker, December 4, 1965, page 51
Swann Galleries, January 28, 2016, Sale2403, Lot 229, Hammer Price

Price with Buyer's Premium

"Hi, Kitten. This is Oogie."
Peter Arno, The New Yorker, December 4, 1965, page 51

"Hi, Kitten. This is Oogie."
Peter Arno, The New Yorker, December 4, 1965, page 51


Note:  If I told you that clicking on the aqua link would take you to everything on this blog about preliminary New Yorker cartoon art, would you do it?

How about clicking to see all the posts here about Peter Arno?

Oogie out!

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Peter Arno's Hurried Note

As he [Peter Arno] told Joseph Mitchell:  "I don't think anything could be as much fun as to get a good hold on a pompous person and shake him or her until you can hear the false teeth rattling."
—Michael Maslin
Peter Arno: The Mad, Mad World of The New Yorker's Greatest Cartoonist

New York:  Regan Arts, 2016, p. 50

Who was Arno calling a pompous person? A woman languishing in her bath perhaps? Idly tasting bon-bons? Dangling a cigarette holder? Dictating a white lie to an amanuensis? What on earth could Arno be all fired up about?

"Er—'Dear Cousin Clara:  Just a hurried note before I catch my train'."
Peter Arno, Original art
The New Yorker, March 17, 1928, page 22

Swann Galleries, January 24, 2013, Sale 2300, Lot 100 with hammer price
With buyer's premium

"Er—'Dear Cousin Clara:  Just a hurried note before I catch my train'."
Peter Arno, The New Yorker, March 17, 1928, page 22

Note:  There are two things you can find a fair amount of around here:

Peter Arno

Original New Yorker cartoon art

Now would you please hand me the soap?

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Illustrators' Show

The place to be on May 13, 1932 was the Illustrators' Show at the New Yorker Theatre, now Studio 54. This was an annual benefit with racy content not unlike the Dutch Treat Shows. The program describes a revue in two acts written by and starring famous illustrators. James Montgomery Flagg contributed "The Illustrators' Song" to the first act. Tony Sarg put on a marionette play in the second.

Rube Goldberg supervised the whole event. He contributed a sketch entitled "Diddle Me This" which features such thoughtfully-named characters as Dr. Belcher McBurp and Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Broccoli. Like many of the illustrators, he performed in his own sketch. Otto Soglow contributed and performed in two sketches, "On Guard" and "Home!!!" In J. P. McEvoy's sketch "Art for God's Sake," Rube Goldberg and Otto Soglow play their own pictures in an art gallery. There is an Arno picture on the wall as well, but Peter Arno does not seem to have been a participant. His picture is played by Peggy Young and Dow Walling. Arthur William Brown and James Montgomery Flagg also did not play their own pictures, but they were involved with the production. Patti Patterson—perhaps Russell Patterson's wife—played a nude.

Illustrators' Show program, May 13, 1932


Note:  Thanks to Tom Bloom for providing this extraordinary program.

Anyone with photos, sheet music, scripts, programs, or recordings of this show or any contemporary "Illustrators' Show "or "Dutch Treat Show, " your material is needed here on this blog.

Some of these illustrators have already been blogged about here:

Peter Arno

James Montgomery Flagg

Rube Goldberg

Carl Mueller

Lloyd Myers

Tony Sarg

John Sheridan

Otto Soglow

Encore, encore!

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Peter Arno: Meet the Oglethorpes

What's in a name? Well, good made-up names are hard to come by. When a cartoonist finds a telling name for a character in a cartoon, he may want to reuse it on occasion. Peter Arno's 1927 New Yorker cartoon referencing Raquel Meller, a very popular Spanish vaudeville singer and actress, features a society matron named Mrs. Oglethorpe. A few years later Arno was to reuse that surname for the unseen driver in a College Humor gag cartoon. If you must recycle a name, it's prudent to do it in a different publication.

Peter Arno, The New Yorker, February 26, 1927, page 22


"Come, darling—imitate Raquel Meller for Mrs. Oglethorpe."
Peter Arno, The New Yorker, February 26, 1927, page 22

From College Humor:

"You may shut off the heater now, Oglethorpe!"
Peter Arno, Original art, College Humor, c. 1935

Time magazine's cover is an indication of the public's familiarity with Srta. Meller:
Señorita Raquel Meller
Time, April 26, 1926



Note:  Does anyone have additional examples of Peter Arno or another New Yorker cartoonist reusing a name for a different character? Do tell.

Consult the archives for more on these topics:

Peter Arno

The New Yorker

College Humor

That'll be all for today, Oglethorpe.

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Peter Arno Art for College Humor

In the summer of 1985—some fifty years after they were published—eighteen works of original cartoon art from College Humor magazine were brought to the Nicholls Gallery in New York. Five were purchased outright by the gallery and eleven accepted on consignment. The artist was Peter Arno.

One cartoon, by Otto Soglow, was deemed "rather dumb" and may not have been taken at all by the gallery, but it was photographed with the Arno cartoons. It is not mentioned in the written agreement between gallery and consignor. Another work of Arno's was in rough condition with some paper loss—"paper eaten at corner" in gallery parlance. That work was returned to the consignor where it remained, it is believed, until after her death. It was sold on eBay in 2011 along with 41 Arno sketchbook pages that may or may not have been declined by the gallery in 1985 as well.

Also included with this lot were the consignment paperwork from the gallery and a contact sheet with eighteen photographs of the original cartoon art. The paperwork gives captions for all but three of the works. The Soglow cartoon is captionless, as so many of his cartoons were. The gallery lists two of the Arno cartoons as being "uncaptioned," but it seems more correct to say they originally had captions and now are missing them.

Contact sheet from the Nicholls Gallery, July 1985
Original cartoon art from College Humor, including seventeen works by Peter Arno and one by Otto Soglow


The original cartoons from the contact sheet are here paired with their captions.
"Hurry, dear, our guests are beginning to arrive!"
"By golly, I forgot to look at your teeth, didn't I?"



"She keeps asking for you!  She's delirious!"
"It isn't every student I'd let mark her own examination paper, Miss Dawson."
"Your husband, Eleanor, what sort of a looking man is he?"
"Am I to understand this is not the 49th Street crosstown bus?"
"It's the master's idea—says it keeps them out of the Stork Club."

"It's the master's idea—says it keeps them out of the Stork Club."Guernsey's March 1986 illustration art auction catalogue Lot A720
Image added November 14, 2016

Image added November 14, 2016

"By gad, I wish I were your father for about five minutes!"


"By gad, I wish I were your father for about five minutes!"
Guernsey's March 1986 illustration art auction catalogue Lot A726
Image added November 14, 2016


"Say! You two ought to know each other!"

"Say! You two ought to know each other!"
Peter Arno, Original art at auction, College Humor, c. 1935
Image added May 29, 2016


"Look, dear, it's for you!"
"See here, Prentice, it's all right to look, but you needn't cheer them on!"
"See here, Prentice, it's all right to look, but you needn't cheer them on!"
Peter Arno, Original art at auction, College Humor, c. 1935
Image added May 29, 2016



"You may shut off the heater now, Oglethorpe!"

"You may shut off the heater now, Oglethorpe!"
Peter Arno, Original art, College Humor, c. 1935
"I do wish you'd change your mind and come along!"

"Well, put up a fight! Don't just sit there!"

["?"]

"Come right in, madam. The marster's awaiting you in his lair."
"Come right in, madam. The marster's awaiting you in his lair."
Peter Arno, Original art, College Humor, c. 1935


["?"]

Otto Soglow







































































Note:  Thanks to Ronan from France for providing the invaluable contact sheet and paperwork issued by the Nicholls Gallery. The unique content of this blog post about Peter Arno could never have been put together without him.

Enjoy my original post about "Come right in, madam. The marster's awaiting you in his lair." You'll eat it up.


You know you want to see them. Arno's original sketchbook pages as well as the contact sheet are posted here.

I consider many of my posts to be incomplete, but this one is more incomplete than most. Ideally it would have more full-size images of the original art to accompany the thumbnails taken off a contact sheet, the pages from College Humor where the art was originally published c. 1935, the Guernsey's auction catalogue page where some of these originals were sold, and the two missing captions. All this material is out there somewhere, and if it finds its way to me I'll add it to the post. So, collectors of these rare Peter Arno originals and of 1930's issues of College Humor, please get in touch. Write to my email address with AB—for Arno Blogging—in the subject line. Look, I really don't ask for much...

For those wanting to know more about Peter Arno, there's no better place to start than Peter Arno: The Mad, Mad World of The New Yorker's Greatest Cartoonist by Michael Maslin. By all means, read the book review in the Christian Science Monitor that calls the book "dazzling." Then perhaps read the excerpt entitled The Peter Arno Cartoons That Helped Rescue The New Yorker which was published on May 5 in the New Yorker's online edition. It's all about the Whoops Sisters. If you don't know who they are, well, hang on to your knickers, dearie!


Here are some more links for the budding Arno connoisseur:

Peter Arno posts on Ink Spill. 

Peter Arno in Chris Wheeler's Cartoon(ist) Gallery. If you could have any collection of Arno books, this is the one you would want.

Peter Arno in the April 26 Record.

Peter Arno in April's Vanity Fair

Peter Arno in the March 29 Wall Street Journal.


Peter Arno here on Attempted Bloggery.

And, once you come up for air:

Otto Soglow on this blog.

Some original cartoon art on this blog (not from the New Yorker).

College Humor magazine posts here on Attempted Bloggery.

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