Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. said, at BPIB,
"Harry Anderson's story is as unique as his ability. Born in 1906 in Chicago, he was going to be a mathematician. He started college at the University of Illinois in 1925. He took an art course as an easy counterpoint to the math classes and discovered both a talent and a love for drawing. From such simple choices our lives are made."
As Kent Steine says at The American Art Archive,
"Conception, composition, value, draughtsmanship, and painting dexterity," Harry Anderson once said, "must all work together. And they are important in just that order. But the parts all become automatic in time." No picture, according to him, would be deemed acceptable with any of these elements neglected. As one of the top illustrators from the 1930s to the 1980s, Harry spoke with quiet authority on the subject of making pictures.
His work graced the pages of all of the nation's high-profile magazines, as well as the most visible advertising campaigns. Quite often, authors would write to Anderson, informing him that he did a better job telling their story with his picture than they had done.
Just a note: Most of the images here can be enlarged by clicking on them! Worth the time, trust me!
Again, from Jim at BPIB,
He married Ruth around 1940. She worked in the same building as Harry and posed for him on one occasion. The following year he left the agency and joined the studio of Haddon Sundblom - famous for his Coca-Cola Santa Claus paintings. He was too old for military service but he did contribute one poster to the war effort. The purchase of a home during this period led to a second fork in his career path.
He and Ruth joined the Seventh Day Adventist church and in 1944 Harry was asked if he would contribute to their publishing efforts. Harry generously said yes and the next year his most famous image was crafted. "What Happened to Your Hand?" [at left] was done for a children's book in 1945 and immediately touched the hearts of that audience. The adults in charge of the publishing program were less enthusiastic; some even considering it near-blasphemous to show Christ in the present day. Cooler heads prevailed and Anderson spent the rest of his active career splitting his efforts between commercial assignments at his premium wages and religious ones done for love and for scale.
His art director at Review and Herald Publishing was T.K. Martin and it was his vision of Christ as a tangible presence in modern times that was shared and executed over and over again by Anderson. The inner peace that allowed Anderson to make his choice to contribute his time and effort at virtually minimum wage was evident in his paintings and in his depiction of Jesus.
Actually, that's unfair to Harry. That dedication and calm is present in all of his work. As an important and popular illustrator, he's almost unique in the gentleness of his images. Quite capable of depicting nearly anything, his choice of assignments and his approach to them was always in line with the dictates of his heart. Not many people can live their lives the way they want to. It seems that Anderson did. He enjoyed the same quiet, focused strength in his private life that's evident in his art.
From advertisement art
to illustrations for stories of every kind,
Harry Anderson's skill, and story-telling ability, was evident. And still is. For instance, take a look at "A Way With Boys" from 1948. Click on the image for a bigger version. Do you see the little mouse in the little box? Can you imagine the story here? Don't you want to know it? Look at her hand holding the box. Take a good long look. Is that an amazing work of art?
As Harry moved deeper into his religious life and his involvement with the Seventh Day Adventists, his work became more Christ-centered. But it also remained very White. Now, don't get me wrong. Harry was a product of his time, and he painted what he saw, whether in his own life or in his mind's eye. A white Christ is not wrong. But in this day and age it is a tad jarring. And a reminder of a time when the PC Jihadists were not yet in power. Harry could paint what moved his heart and not worry about the Leftist Inquisition.
Harry was free to paint a white Messiah, in a white Israel, without the slightest qualm. Yep! McCarthyism was just rearing its ugly head, but here was an artist painting what he wished. Funny how free we actually were back then, eh?
Indeed, imagine a painting such as "The Consultation", which shows Christ at the bedside of a patient, being hung in a public building today. Yet it hangs in the lobby of a hospital today. Why? Because it came before the Fools of PC arrived to try to shut GOD up. And before even religious institutions were fearful of the reactions of non-believers.
There are so many paintings and illustrations available, and so many I would love to post right here. But, as with my other Artist Posts, they are just too numerous. Let me suggest to you, if you have any interest in the works of Harry Anderson, that you visit the web-site of Jim Pinkoski, whose Harry Anderson page remembers the fine artist and recounts Jim's visit with Harry near the end of Harry's life. It is fascinating and quite revealing. And it's chock full of photos of the visit. Jim was very nice to email me some fine quality images that I could use here.
I also recommend Ken Steacy Publishing, where you can find a few nice pictures, as well as BPIB, my old standby, for biographical info, and the American Art Archives, another of my standbys, for the Kent Steine article on "Loose Realism" - Harry's painting style - and more biographical information.
I love the Internet! So much to discover, so much to learn! So go learn some things about Harry Anderson: he had a different kind of Magic!
Okay, one more. This one emailed to me by Jim Pinkoski, titled "Discovery".
As Jim said,
"This was a neat one that was a poster in the 1970s -- see the face of Jesus in the bushes? It's illustrating that we can look at the beauty of nature and see God's handiwork all around us!"