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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