Friday, September 1, 2017

Earl Mayan's World War II Drawings

When New York illustrator Earl Mayan (1916-2009) decided to enlist in World War II, he left behind his illustration career just as it was just beginning to take off.

He served for four and a half years as a camouflage engineer and reconnaissance photographer, flying through skies lit by antiaircraft rounds, and developing his photographs in abandoned farmhouses.

During the down time he drew litho-crayon portraits of his fellow soldiers, of kids in Panama and Trinidad, and of ordinary folks in France. 

He sketched guys from the 606 Engineer's Batallion waiting in a chow line at Camp Lucky Strike in France. Note the dog, and how each guy carries his own mess kit.

He carried the drawings around for years rolled up in his barracks bag. The drawings suffered through all sorts of conditions, but somehow they survived.

He returned to a successful career as an illustrator in the 1950s. The newest issue of Illustration Magazine (#57) features the work of Earl Mayan, with 81 examples of his artwork (including 9 of his WWII drawings) taken from originals and tearsheets, along with a biography written by his daughter.

The issue also features the work of Peter Stevens and W.E. Hill. If you can't find a copy of Illustration (#57) on your newsstand, you can follow the link and order from the website.
More of Mayan's WWII drawings at Ron Glazer Fine Art  and at the Earl Mayan website
Wikipedia on Earl Mayan


bernicky said...

The artists of war are so often forgotten until we visit a museum and run across their work. Photos of the period just don't capture the feeling that artists were capable of. There were artists at Vimy, Dieppe, Dunkirk, Juno Beach and on and on. Officers in rank, in the Canadian military, with expectation to document as well as fight. Amazing people regardless of which military or branch of service they served.

Tom Hart said...

This issue of Illustration is a good one. I got mine the other day. I hope there's an explanation of the cover illustration in the related article though. It's kind of spooky!

Rich said...

Hey James, a bit off-topic, but you appeared in my dream tonight, no kidding:

You presented a rather large painting. It was done in your usual masterful realistic, finely colored style.
A vacuum cleaner placed in the midst, and around it, circumfering, a vast array of different attachment-pieces - it must have been more than a hundred. A very versatile vacuum-cleaner indeed.
Most impressing layout: After awakening, I was still amazed.

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