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on November 30, 2008
Like many other reviewers, I have been waiting for a book like this for years. And, like them, I am both thrilled and disappointed. While this is one of the most comprehensive collections of Leyendecker illustrations ever to see print, and worth the price of the book alone, the text is severely wanting. The book is full of errors, both minor and major, and has an antagonistic tone to boot.

An example of the former is the claim that the actor Neil Hamilton, "appeared AS `Tarzan the Ape Man' (1934)." This, of course, should read that he appeared IN "Tarzan the Ape Man" (1932). ("Tarzan and His Mate," in which Hamilton also appeared, again not as Tarzan, was released in `34).

Examples of the later would be any mention of other illustrators, about whom they usually have some snarky comment to make. A particular amount of vitriol is spewed on to Norman Rockwell, whom they portray as the most contemptible of human beings.

This is frankly a disturbing trend in a lot of books. (witness the James Bama book "American Realist" and "Excess- the art of Michael Golden" for other examples) It seems that it is no longer enough to present an artist works and plead his case, but one must also denigrate and dismiss that artist contemporaries and rivals. If one wishes to bash artist such as Cole Phillips and Rockwell, and Leyendecker's brother and sister too boot, there are plenty of other places to do so. Is it really necessary to do such in a Leyendecker biography?

Also be aware that the authors lay much of the 20th centuries iconography at Leyendecker's feet. They exaggeratingly claim that J.C. is responsible for everything from giving flowers to mom on mother day, playing football on Thanksgiving, inspiring the novel "the Great Gatsby," and much more. It's one thing to laud your heroes accomplishments, quite another to exaggerate them.

By all means, buy the book. But do so for the pretty pictures, not the text.
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on November 2, 2008
Any new book about Leyendecker is a welcome event. This volume is an ambitious effort with many excellent images. Try to focus on the pictures and avert your eyes from the text, which is hilariously inaccurate.

As just one example, the authors write: "After Leyendecker's precedent-setting career, Charles Livingston Bull, John Clymer, Steven Dohanos, John Falter, Anton Otto Fisher, Harrison Fisher, James Montgomery Flagg, Charles Dana Gibson, J.F. Kernan, Frederic Remington, Robert Riggs, N.C. Wyeth, and other famous artists went on to make their names with the Post." It's hard to imagine how a sentence could be more wrong. Several of the listed artists (Remington, Gibson, Fisher, Wyeth) "made their name" BEFORE Leyendecker made his, and were in fact dead before the end of Leyendecker's "precedent-setting career." Other artists on their list (Bull and Flagg) were Leyendecker's contemporaries, NOT his successors. Flagg was far more famous in their lifetime than Leyendecker. But most importantly, it's hard to think of more than two (or at most, three) from this list of illustrators who actually "made their names with the Post." Some did not work for the Post at all.

Such errors are common in this book-- apparently, the authors feel free to simply make such things up (although based on the number of rave reviews the book is receiving, most readers don't know enough about the subject to tell the difference.)

Putting factual errors aside, the authors would've had room for more (and larger) images if they had been willing to let go of a few pet fixations, such as Leyendecker's gay relationship with model Charles Beach. It is certainly appropriate for the authors to note that the famed Arrow man "was not only a homosexual but a kept man, the live-in lover of the famed artist who thrust himself into such an exalted status," but 200 pages later their focus on "thrusting" continues unabated. We are still reading that "Charles Beach and Joe Leyendecker are held up as examples of monogamy among the gay community, so often criticized for promiscuity," or that "Charles' Dorian Gray image never [ages] in Joe's eyes nor in ours either" or that "members of the gay community [remember Leyendecker] for icons of masculinity and sensitivity." After a while, these musings become presumptuous and insulting to the gay community.

Finally, on a personal note, I believe that a biographer has an obligation to avoid using his or her subject as a platform for self-aggrandizement. It is amazing how many of the "milestones" of Leyendecker's life took place long after his death, and coincidentally are centered around the authors' own gallery shows and sales of Leyendecker's work, or around their promotion of the term "imagist" to describe his work, or around public relations for their illustration museum. The art of public relations is very different from the art of painting, and this would have been a better book if the authors had the restraint to keep the two separate.
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on September 23, 2008
This is a wonderful collection of J.C.Leyendecker's artwork and a must own for illustrators and lovers of Leyendecker's art. It's quite worth the asking price. My only complaint about the artwork shown, is that so much of the Saturday Evening Post covers are just too small to appreciate like they should be, however, that's understandable as if they were four per page, then that would be one huge book.

But the real reason I have a disappointement with the book is in the writing. That's why I didn't give it the full five stars the artwork alone deserves. If the authors could have only left their personal beliefs about Leyendecker's life out of the writing and focused on the historical facts. (To the author's, while I'm sure you believe that the "facts" you presented are facts to you, because you believe them, that simply doesn't make them facts to everyone else, whether you think it should be or not.) It's a shame when authors writing biographies place their own interpretations of another person's life down as fact. And that's what more or less detracts from the whole experience of the book.

Other than that, kudos to well put together archive of Leyendecker artwork.
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on October 5, 2014
To see more pictures from the book, please visit my blog via my Amazon profile link.

J.C. Leyendecker (1874-1951) was one of the most influential American artists of the early 20th century, and his illustrations were instrumental in shaping the look and style of modern magazine design. This book (288 pages) contains an extensive collection of his art work, including poster, book and advertising illustrations, over 600 pieces in total.

After studying drawing and anatomy at the Chicago Art Institute, Leyendecker spent a year at the Académie Julian in Paris, where he was introduced to the art work of Toulouse-Lautrec and Alphonse Mucha, whose work influenced his own, in particular Mucha's elaborate floral arabesques and his stylish composition and poses for the human subject matter.

Leyendecker's own work would eventually be of influence to another important American illustrator some 20 years later - the great Norman Rockwell.

Leyendecker's artistic clout can still be felt today - the character designs and visual style of the hugely popular Valve game Team Fortress 2 was also directly influenced and inspired by Leyendecker's illustrations.

A great primer for one of the most preeminent American illustrators, this beautiful hard cover volume excels in both quantity and quality - a wide spectrum of the artist's work is covered, and the reproductions are crisp and clean. Highly recommended.
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on January 2, 2015
As much as I love Leyendecker's art and talent, the writers of this book come to table with a load of baggage and prejudices. If you just want to look at the images, fine, but if you want content, try a more well rounded author.
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on November 14, 2008
The Forgeries are just a bonus to the reader! I am so disappointed with the inaccuracies found in this book! Let's address the counterfeit issue for a moment. Lots of people are documenting specific paintings as copies, duplicates, forgeries, etc. Judy Cutler is the self-proclaimed and acknowledged expert on J. C. Leyendecker so how could she not identify a phony painting? Isn't she the country's biggest dealer of Leyendecker original paintings? Maybe her real specialty is only Norman Rockwell. After these faux pas, any claims of Leyendecker expertise should be instantly removed from her resume'. I now understand that there are more than just the counterfeit painting identified on pages 98 & 99. Another Leyendecker blogger, who obviously knows his way around a JCL painting or two, says the painting on page 75 is also fake. The blogger urged readers to compare it with the one in Michael Schau's book and he is correct. Yet another Leyendecker blog-member thinks the matador painting reeks of fraud. I don't know that painting so I reserve my comment.

It makes a person wonder why fakes would have been included. One example could be a mistake, two counterfeit appearances would be unfortunate, but more than several inclusions indicate a trend that cannot be explained away by the authors. Also, there is no way that the picture on page 37 is Charles Beach. Impossible. How can they substantiate that male, although quite handsome, is Charles Beach. I have a copy of the Poster Design Magazine from the mid 1920's and there are two very clear photographs of Beach. More research was surely needed on the part of the Cutlers. Many Leyendecker fans/groupies identify each handsome Leyendecker model as Charles Beach but they are usually mistaken. Once a person can actually see Beach's face and absorb his characteristic features, his image is instantly identifiable! But when an author doesn't have all of the proper facts they should not include an imposter image or a substitute picture. Do the Cutlers think no one will call them out on this?

It is my opinion that Judy and Laurence Cutler assembled and wrote the majority of the biographical nonsense that appears in this book. Their comments regarding Leyendecker's sexual preferences are especially offputting and smack of biased homophobia and mis-statement of facts.

Mr. and Ms. Cutler often generalize and insert fantasy stories to entertain the readers. I consider myself a scholar of the gay culture in America and my research has focused on the homosexual environments and lifestyles of 1910-1930. My works have been published often and I always credit my sources of information. Mr. and Ms. Cutler should try writing only the information that can be substantiated. How many pages would be eliminated from this Leyendecker book if they had adopted that approach? Subtract the fake pictures, subtract the superfluous writing by an Architect?, remove all of the sub-standard reproductions that display unbalanced color, what's left? Not much at all. This book retails for fifty dollars. If you must buy it, understand what you are getting - 50% accurate content and 50% accurate pictures.
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on July 17, 2013
This book contains rare, excellent color reproductions of not only most of Leyendecker's finished illustrations but also many of his preliminary studies. I find this a wonderful surprise because I had thought a lot of his originals were sold and virtually lost after his death.

As an art student in the 1950s, I first discovered Lyendecker's work while studying illustrations in bound volumes of the Saturday Evening Post in a library. I have been a fan of his work throughout my career.

The authors have presented a fairly detailed story of Leyendecker's life. This again is a surprise because he was a very private person, living in seclusion after 1930. The authors place too much emphasis on the fact that he was a homosexual. They interpret some as his work as being a homosexual statement of some sort. They are way off in this conclusion, as they are in much of the text, inserting their opinions into biographical writing.

Leyendecker had a lot to do with the growing power of advertising but he was not the only force at that time. The authors give JC and Arrow Shirts too much credit regarding the establishment of branding in marketing. Coca-Cola, Ford and a few others had a little influence also.

The authors are much too critical of Norman Rockwell and his relationship with Leyendecker. Leyendecker was Rockwell's idol. Rockwell was one of the few people who attended JC's funeral. Rockwell admits that, as a young illustrator, he tried to emulate Lyendecker's style. By 1916 Rockwell was a Post cover artist himself and he soon fell into his own way of working. While Rockwell thought so much of Leyendecker and his work, he did not personally approvel of his life style.

This is a first rate book --in spite of the text--because it is a marvelous, rich collection of work by one of America's greatest illustrators.

Paul Sullivan
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon June 13, 2009
I found out that this book is rather controversial after reading all the comments left by other readers on Amazon, most are disgusted by the historical inaccuracies and personal agenda of the authors. Even I have to agree to a certain extent. At the end of the book, you'll get the impression that Norman Rockwell, Leyendecker's competition, is nothing but vile. One reader even pointed out a knock-off painting that was mistaken as an original Leyendecker work. These are only two examples.

In short, you should get this book for the art and not the text.

Leyendecker's paintings is easily identifiable by the exaggerated, quick brushstroke effect, or crosshatched strokes with oil paint. The reason why I bought the book was to check out how he draws the folds on those clothes. His command of drawing clothes and drapery is masterly. His more iconic pieces would be the Arrow Collar Man, New Year babies, and the covers for Saturday Evening Post.

Plenty of cover art he did for magazines are also included, although it's small at 9 per page. I thought the scans and reproduction of the paintings are pretty good. Yes, there might be yellow stains on those old copies of Saturday Evening Post but note that these paintings are from before the 1950s. The large illustrations are reproduced well, showing the texture of the medium. I like that his portraits are full of form and solidity, which I understand are drawn with models as reference.

The included biography is controversial but I didn't really buy this book for the text.

All said, it's still a very decent archive of Leyendecker's work.

The art is good enough to warrant a 5-star rating, regardless of what is written.

(More pictures are available on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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on June 10, 2014
Fine book on an absolute master. Lavishly illustrated, the larger color plates allow for appreciation of the artist's magnificent draftsmanship and brush work. Well represented is Leyendecker's creation of an almost ridiculously handsome ideal -- even Cary Grant never looked THAT good -- predating Ralph Lauren by two generations. All his major covers are here -- if mostly in miniature -- along with his famous shirt ads. Plus, the author did not shy away from exploring Leyendecker's shadowy personal life, oh so different from the easy, suave, clubby world he depicted.
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on September 26, 2008
Having waited for YEARS for a good book on Leyendecker, the wait is over. I am very happy with this product. The reproductions are very good. While the book does catalog all of the artists covers (SEP, Colliers, etc), the result is well done. Typically, there are nine covers on one page and on the facing page is a repo of the actual artwork from one of the covers. I think almost all of the full page images reproduced are from original artwork, and not reproductions of magazine covers. Very nice. Sure... it would be great to have all of the covers shown in full page glorious color, but we dont and we wont. It still deserves five stars. There are many "sketches" in oil shown that were created as studies, many of which are stunning in and of themselves. Also shown are advertising illustrations. Great!
Regarding the text, move on if your are looking for detail on the artist life. There is really nothing new here. There has always been little know about the artist and his boyfriend. Leyendecker was a profoundly private person, the result of which is that there is little personal information available. What is written is interesting, but of minor interest. Who is buying this book for the text? Please.
But as it now stands, this one is easily worth the price and five stars!
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