Sunday, November 13, 2011

Howard Pyle Exhibit Opening

The Howard Pyle exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum opened on Friday night in Wilmington to celebrate the artwork of the great American illustrator.

I was excited not only to see the paintings, but also to meet many of the direct descendants of Mr. Pyle. Here I am posing (in a suit from the period) with Howard Pyle Brokaw (far left), Ted Crichton, and Howard Pyle (grandson).

Delaware Online reporter Gary Soulsman and Betsy Price covered the Friday night preview event, and did a little interview with me:
"What I admire most is Pyle's ability to conjure imaginary worlds in such a convincing way, both in his writing and in his art work," said Gurney, who works in fantasy and in historical painting for National Geographic. "Pyle has always been the standard in American illustration for well-researched and well-imagined re-creations of historical scenes."

In Gurney's view, Pyle is an important figure because he bridged the world of art in salons and the world of art used in reproduction. It was through illustration that he reached large numbers of people.

Designers of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie series have said Pyle's work was the model for Capt. Jack Sparrow and others.

"It was his reach in publishing that made him a household name," said Gurney, pointing out that Pyle worked in different styles and scales.
He was also a gifted teacher, urging his students to identify with figures they were painting and to bring strong emotion into a scene.

His teaching left his mark on painters, such as N.C. Wyeth. Pyle taught classes at Drexel Institute of Arts and Sciences in Philadelphia, at his own school in Wilmington and during the summer in Chadds Ford, Pa.

"If this was all he did, he would still be heralded as a great American artist," Gurney said. "He was interested in capturing a mood and transporting you through a picture into another world. He wanted his students to live the paintings."
 At the nearby Brandywine River Museum through November 17, there are two associated exhibitions spotlighting Howard Pyle as a Teacher and N.C. Wyeth's Treasure Island Illustrations. Here a group of artists (me, Lester Yocum, Jean-Baptiste Monge, and Armand Cabrera) do the "pirate walk" next to the original endpaper art for Treasure Island.

"Howard Pyle: American Master Rediscoverd" Exhibition
Read the full article at Delaware Online
Interview with curator Margaretta Frederick at
Delaware First Media profile on the team that put the show together

Check out the new book about Howard Pyle, published by the Delaware Museum, with an essay by me on Pyle's working methods.


Anonymous said...

Here a group of artists (me, Lester Yocum, Jean-Baptiste Monge, and Armand Cabrera) do the "pirate walk" next to the original endpaper art for Treasure Island.

For some reason you guys just don't seem as menacing and dangerous as those pirates (an utterly brilliant illustration btw)!

armandcabrera said...


I had a great time and I'm glad they didn't arrest us for taking that picture. (no picture taking was allowed)

Daroo said...

Seems like a great exhibit -- I'd love to see it.

Speaking of J-B Monge, between your article and his, Color and Light is all over the recent Ish of International Artist. Excellent work by both of you.

ghenessa said...

I just want to introduce Studio Helper. It help manage your staff and students in a smoother and easier way. It helps manage and track of their performance. Give it a try today! You're free to play around with it as much as you like during your free trial.

James Gurney said...

ghenessa, that Studio Helper sounds like a good way to manage those unruly students! But can you come up with something to get the dried-up paint out of all my old brushes? I'm saving them up in jars under the sink waiting for a miracle. If you can really manage and track students, I bet you can fix my wrecked brushes, too!