His first book, The Juggler of Our Lady, published in 1953, is considered one of the first modern graphic novels. His talking stomach was a game changer in TV advertising — as NPR’s Kurt Andersen recalls the 1967 Alka-Seltzer spot, “60 seconds of urbane wit and humanity expressed in this singular, seemingly effortless, totally fetching (and faintly European) economy of form, right there on TV.” This October SVA celebrates the decades-long career of illustrator R.O. Blechman in what will be his
first major retrospective. Blechman joins Jules Feiffer, Mary Ellen Mark and Massimo Vignelli among the 25 art and design luminaries to receive SVA’s Masters Series award and exhibition.
From readers of The New Yorker and the Village Voice to fans of the Emmy-winning film The Soldier’s Tale, Blechman’s award-winning work is known to millions, but his name is not. At least, not yet. The Normal Rockwell Museum recently mounted an exhibition of his drawings, and The Soldier’s Tale will
be screened to orchestral accompaniment at the Bard Summer Music Festival in August. He’ll be featured (alongside Paul Flora and William Steig) this October an exhibition of 20th-century illustrators at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Strasbourg.
“The Masters Series: R.O. Blechman” captures a multifaceted artist at the top of his game: one who works in illustration, animation and graphic stories; who launched an art studio, penned op-ed cartoons, produced television specials, directed commercials and ran a groundbreaking animation studio of his own; who published more than a dozen beloved books and 14 covers for The New Yorker; and who holds prestigious spots in three different
Halls of Fame (Art Directors Club, Society of Illustrators and National Cartoonists Society [Lifetime Achievement Award]).
“The Masters Series: R.O. Blechman” is on view from October 2 through November 2 at the Visual Arts Gallery, 601 West 26 Street.