Saturday 11 April 2015

'Mac Conner: A New York Life' at House of Illustration

I went to another excellent exhibition at the House of Illustration this week. Just entering its second week is 'Mac Conner: A New York Life', a retrospective of some of the work of this mid-century modern true 'madman'. I REALLY enjoyed this exhibition.

Flirting between design, art, and illustration, the most striking thing for me was the strength of his compositions. I was completely in awe of the intelligent placing of figures, lines and balancing of weight in the painting. Couple this with some seriously accomplished colour work and the result is awesome in my opinion, really inspiring stuff. In a similar vein to Norman Rockwell, Conner appears to be a champion draughtsman, designer, painter, layout artist, AND storyteller in one package.

During his career (he is still alive at 101!) he produced illustrations for loads of publications from naval training material to women's lifestyle magazines and novels. His paintings feel effortlessly cool and authentic, representing fashion and life in mid-Century New York. Fascinating to see in this exhibition is the working process; photographic studies alongside original works, and often the actual finished publication too. The printmaker in me was especially drawn to those paintings that use a restrained colour palette, for publications that were to print in 2 or 3 colours. He largely painted in gouache on board, and looking at his work makes me want to go pick up my paintbrushes right away.

House of Illustration is a great little gem of a gallery, a stone's throw from the newly placed Central St Martins in Granary Square behind Kings Cross St Pancras station. Flanked by cranes and new builds, with the canal running through it, there are some lovely old buildings in this square, housing trendy eateries and fountains in the square that kids splash about in. Designers, illustrators, fashionistas & Madmen fans, you will not be dissapointed, go see this exhibition!

See a short snippet on Channel 4 about the exhibition here

House of Illustration
Tues - Sun 10am - 6pm
Until 28th June 2015
Adult ticket £7

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