Coles Phillips: the disappearing act (lecture 2)

Clarence Coles Phillips was an American artist and illustrator during the early 20th century. Right from his early years attending Kenyon College in Ohio, his unique illustrations were featured in the school yearbook. This, in my opinion, was the turning point that helped him gain enough courage to pursue art, which he did part-time at the Chase School of Art. He was quickly hired by Life magazine at the age of 26, and launched his successful career as a professional illustrator.

Phillips is best known for his use of negative space in his illustrations, fondly personified as the Fade Away Girl (Fig. 1), which became very well-known through his work with Life magazine. Personally, I think this is a very creative solution to both conveying a message visually and being cheaper with prints by using less ink. His illustrations are very clever! It’s almost like a magic trick to be able to fill in the drawing with your own eyes. I see how his illustrations are very modern and how this idea of negative space has been used countless times in art.

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Figure 1: The Fade Away Girl
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Life Magazine; August 24, 1911
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Ladies’ Home Journal; November 1911
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ad for Oneida Community Silver in the Ladies’ Home Journal; November 1911
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ad for Naiad Dress Shields in Life Magazine; March 7, 1912

Works Cited:

One thought on “Coles Phillips: the disappearing act (lecture 2)

  1. Mikaela,
    Nice work on both Potter and Phillips. I’m really not surprised that both these artists are the most popular subjects that the class has blogged on so far this term. Both are seminal and important for different reasons which you’ve cited. Good research and personal insights.
    Well Done and keep it up.

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