The weekend has arrived when the students in my senior course receive the 100 figures assignment, described in some detail here, complete with commentary from survivors from prior years.
As Friday winds down, a wish for a good weekend to the group, with a set of pictorial reminders that figures need not be (sharp intake of breath) The Figure, but rather pictures of people.
At the top of this post, a Harry Beckhoff, interior fiction illustration for Collier's, June 12, 1941. Above, a petroglyph group from Nine Mile Canyon, in Central Utah. Photo by Stan Strembicki, with whom I went tramping around after these things. Fremont culture, between 700 and 1300 CE.
From Harlan Tarbell's Chalk Talk Stunts, Denison and Company, 1926. Recollections of the war in France inform these pictures, which are among the least objectionable in the entire book. (Another time.) Below: different French figures, also rendered in line, printed several hundred years earlier:
Death makes new friends, 15th or 16th century. The skeleton with the dark patch on his belly isn't a skeleton, but a dried-out partially decayed corpse, probably washed from an overcrowded (five or six deep) Parisian grave during a storm.
A Lego policeman, reminding us the range is broader than we imagine.
Gustav Klimt, Adele Bloch-Bauer I. 1907. Fluctuating between forest and trees.
Or people among trees. Milton Caniff, the Steve Canyon Sunday strip, October 14, 1947.
Richard Scarry, in Cars and Trucks, a Golden Book. 1951. A detail of a bus-boarding process.
Elegance is possible, too. From Gerlach's Allegories, 1900.
Mickey may not be people, strictly speaking, but his gigantic hands and feet are relevant for cartoon personages. From Steamboat Willie, 1928.
Finally, in a weekend languor–ooh, maybe another time–a Robert O. Reid Collier's cover girl, from October 14, 1939. Good luck everybody!