Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Smokes for Mom!

This one's a gimme, right? Quick - I say "smoking", you say...

"New born baby!"


Never has an illustration of mother and child looked so right ... and a concept for a cigarette ad looked so horribly wrong as in this Phillip Morris ad, beautifully executed by Joe De Mers.

Here's a passage from a long-ago correspondence with Barbara Bradley (who occupied the studio next door to De Mers at Cooper's):

Joe de Mers ( Incidentally, Joe pronounced his name de Marz)... My take is that his work previous to Cooper's had been so very different that, as it evolved, it became closer to Coby [Whitmore's]'s for a while. Then, his style began to reflect more and more his watercolor background, the paint became more transparent and the brushwork looser.

As for advertising work, I don't think he minded at all. Joe always seemed so jovial, casual, and laid-back. Any time an advertiser selected one of the "big boys" it was because their illustrative style was wanted so it wasn't such a great jump. Quite a few of them did ads for Pall Mall [and Phillip Morris] Cigarettes. One of Joe's, which I often show my students, (as a study in social history as much as art), features a mother holding her baby in the nursery. On the child's dresser is the ash tray and cigarette. The heading reads, "Oh so Gentle". That's hard to believe today.

Below, another Phillip Morris "Gentle" ad (this time, thankfully, sans baby!) I think this is by another cooper Studio giant - Joe Bowler.

In the same email excerpted above, Barbara wrote:

Now, Coby's work changed a great deal, I think far more than Joe de Mers', but Joe Bowler's also changed tremendously. During my years at Cooper's, Joe Bowler's work was very similar to Coby's: in genre, composition, technique, procedure, and in the loveliness of their women. Bowler had been very young when he was hired as an apprentice at Coopers and Coby must have been his mentor. They became great friends. After I left, I followed their work and saw a growing divergence.

His technique changed, as his medium changed. He had an exciting green period and another golden period when loose stroke filled washes covered most of a page. The biggest change came with his McCall's series of portraits of the Kennedy women and of children in fashion. They were gorgeous and led to his eventual FA work of portraits and commissioned work.

To round out this grouping, another Phillip Morris "gentle" ad, this one by Bob Levering, also of Cooper Studio.

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