Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Yet another recent addition to the Studio library: Overspray: Riding High With the Kings of California Airbrush Art (Picturebox). The airbrush-as-illustration-tool enjoyed a brief heyday in the 1930s, thanks in part to Wrigley's artist Otis Shepard and pinup masters George Petty and Alberto Vargas. In the 1970s, a group of California artists, beginning with Dave Willardson and Charles White III, revived interest in the airbrush with their glorious pop-surrealist illustrations for magazines like West, Playboy, Rolling Stone and Oui (yes, Oui), movie posters and hundreds of album covers. The California airbrushers embraced pop culture iconography with a rare enthusiasm, and their work is saturated with so much chrome, neon, glossy lipstick and carnal sweat it leaves a not-altogether-unpleasant buzzing sensation in the skull. Norman Hathaway writes, "The carhop in Dave Willardson's poster for American Grafitti is so intensely American it's nearly painful."

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