James Daugherty was born on June 1, 1889. Like many other children's book illustrators, he worked creatively in a variety of styles and genres.
He was one of the first American painters to work with abstract color.
|Daugherty sketching in his studio, his son posing for him|
Later he began working in more representational styles...
...creating a large body of work in the form of murals and paintings...
...that often explored American history and experience.
It was later in his career when he turned to children's books, a field in which he illustrated for other authors...
...as well as writing and illustrating his own distinguished, award-winning books.
His work is always vigorous, bursting with energy, so alive it seems to leap off the page.
One can feel muscles rippling beneath the surface of even the inanimate objects in his work.
|Illustration from "Daniel Boone"|
I had not realized until researching for this post that Daugherty's work was also at times quite controversial (and perhaps still is)---for his uncompromising depictions of violent factual events, his sometimes scantily clad people, his uncomfortably accurate portrayals of this country's history. We are all too familiar with these same issues today, of course.
Daughtery's representational work remains, for me, some of the most beauiful art ever created. His images remind me of Michelangelo's art; they have the same heroic feel and look, the same celebration of the grandeur of creation.But Daugherty's images have, in addition, their own unique qualities: a barely controlled energy, a life force that animates every creature, object, and item portrayed... as well as an acceptance of humanity in all its contradictory imperfection and nobility.