Draw Me a Story
The word "illustration" implies a pairing: an image with a narrative, a poem, or even an event. By this definition, illustration functions as a device that amplifies the meaning of its partner. The two in many cases become virtually inseparable in the minds and memories of generations of viewers, such as in the childhood "picture book" mainstay Goodnight Moon.
Book illustration has its origins in medieval manuscript illumination, but it was in the 18th and 19th centuries that the art form became more widely available through large published editions. As a genre that is by definition reproduced, book illustration reached a diverse audience, crossing social and often cultural barriers. In England and France, the illustrator's style and subject matter had important crossovers with contemporary decorative arts, painting, and sculpture, demonstrated most clearly in the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau artistic movements.
Periodicals and newspapers such as Le Charivari and Punch were also important sites for the illustrator's art during the 19th century. During the 20th century, American magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post, Life, and The New Yorker became famous for their illustrations. Norman Rockwell, Jessie Willcox Smith, and other artists associated with these publications played an important part in picturing the American experience. More recent illustrators such as David Macaulay take the educative value of pictures to a new level. Others, among them Chris van Allsburg, inspire fantasy and elicit intensely emotional responses to their stories.
At RISD, education in illustration began with the founding of the Department of Illustration in 1945. There are now eleven full-time and twenty-six part-time faculty members and over two hundred majors in the department. Many alumni are among the most revered illustrators working today.
The Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs would like to thank Andrew Raftery, RISD Associate Professor of Printmaking and Faculty Fellow, for his substantial contribution to this exhibition.