Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Photo Reference: R.A. Maguire

Robert A. Maguire (1921-2005) was an American illustrator best known for his crime noir pulp book covers painted in the 1950s and '60s. His art defined the detective genre, and the over 600 covers Maguire created during his career made him one of the most important illustrators of the latter half of the twentieth century.

Like most illustrators, Maguire relied upon photographs of his models for his illustration work, and luckily, much of his reference has been preserved. To see how this artist used his reference, check out R.A. Maguire Cover Art, the only website authorized by the late Robert Maguire. At the site, you can see images of his printed covers, his original paintings, and the photographs from which Maguire worked.

There is also a great interview with Maguire in the American Art Archives which reveals some of the behind-the-scene action of the illustration world. It is a fun read, and I've included some of Maguire's remembrances of working with models below:

My first wife was a model, but for the most part, I didn’t go near models. They were too fast living. I used one model quite a bit and she invited my wife and I down to see her dancing around ’53, ’54, and she was dancing in a mafia club. The Copacabana, in fact.

The models were very ‘active.’ They weren’t real. A lot of them were on drugs. I had one girl posing against a backdrop. She put her arms over her head and slowly slumped to the floor. I had to go over and shake her awake in order to finish the shoot. We had deadlines.

I had this one model, very, very beautiful girl and very professional. She’d say, ‘How do you want me, zonked out of my mind or just mildly intoxicated?’ She had it all down pat. She’d go into one of these sexual trances and look like she was crazy about the guy model.¹



¹ American Art Archives. December 30, 2009. {}

1 comment:

John Vukelic said...

Thanks for posting these photos. I was reading an article on Bob Maguire (Issue no. 3) which mentioned the models Bob Maguire would hire for his reference shots. Thrilling to see what those shots actually looked like.