Bernie Fuchs (1932–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1932, in O'Fallon, IL; Education: Gradu-ated from Washington University School of Fine Arts (St. Louis, MO), 1954. Hobbies and other interests: Music, travel, golf.
Agent—c/o Harvey Kahn, 155 Millburn Ave., Millburn, NJ 07041.
New Center Studio, Detroit, MI, artist, 1954–57; Art Group, Inc., Detroit, artist and owner, 1958–62; freelance artist, Westport, CT, beginning 1962. Faculty member, Famous Artists Schools and Illustrators Workshop. Work exhibited in solo and group shows, including U.S. Information Agency Graphics Exhibition in the former USSR.
Society of Illustrators.
Named Artist of the Year, Artists Guild of New York, 1962; elected to Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, 1975; Hamilton King Award; named Sports Artist of the Year, United States Sports Academy, 1991; commissioned to design four U.S. postage stamps, 1998.
Ride like the Wind: A Tale of the Pony Express, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men, Franklin Library (Franklin Center, PA), 1976.
Alan Schroeder, Ragtime Tumpie, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1989.
Bill Littlefield, Champions: Stories of Ten Remarkable Athletes, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1993.
Alan Schroeder, Carolina Shout!, Dial (New York, NY), 1995.
Brian J. Heinz, The Wolves, Dial (New York, NY), 1996.
Paul B. Janeczko, Home on the Range: Cowboy Poetry, Dial (New York, NY), 1997.
Jane Yolen, Raising Yoder's Barn, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.
Odds Bodkin, Ghost of the Southern Belle: A Sea Tale, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.
Stephen Krensky, Shooting for the Moon: The Amazing Life and Times of Annie Oakley, Melanie Kroupa Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Contributor of art work to periodicals, including McCall's, Redbook, Sports Illustrated, and Cosmopolitan.
The youngest illustrator ever elected to the Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame, Bernie Fuchs was only thirty when he was named Artist of the Year by the Artists Guild in New York in 1962. An accomplished and versatile painter, Fuchs has been acclaimed for his official portraits of U.S. presidents Kennedy and Johnson. His distinguished artwork has appeared in such highly regarded magazines as McCall's, Redbook, and Sports Illustrated. More recently, he has contributed his unique talents to the world of children's books, bringing his mastery of drama, mood, and detail to the texts he illuminates.
Horn Book critic Lois F. Anderson, reviewing Alan Schroeder's 1989 picture book Ragtime Tumpie, noted that the story about legendary entertainer Josephine Baker is illustrated by Fuchs in "luminous oil paintings" containing "vivid browns, golds, and blues." New York Times Book Review critic Liz Rosenberg pointed out the "bright burnt gold" of the market, the "deep orange washes and amber highlights" of the cafés, and the "bright flicker in a pink dress and yellow hat" that denotes the heroine amid a "dreamscape of coal cars, coal smoke and shadowy men." She concluded: "the prose and artwork are in cahoots here."
Fuchs's full-page paintings in the "strikingly handsome book" Champions: Stories of Ten Remarkable Athletes "contribute to the excitement and power of the stories," according to reviewer Maeve Visser Knoth in a Horn Book review. Sheilamae O'Hara observed in Booklist that Fuchs's illustrations, "sepia-toned and soft-edged, imparting a dreamlike quality," suggest that "great athletes function in a dimension of their own making."
In a follow-up of their successful first collaboration, Ragtime Tumpie, Fuchs teamed with Alan Schroeder again in Carolina Shout!, about street vendors in Charleston, South Carolina. Ruth Semrau, writing in School Library Journal, praised Fuchs's "magical oil paintings," describing each successive page as "more enchanting than the last." She added that "the features of the people are painted in meticulous detail, standing out over hazy backgrounds of light and shadow." A critic for Publishers Weekly wrote that Fuchs's "distinctive sun-drenched paintings are filled with period details and characters so lively that the reader can almost hear them sing."
The Wolves by Brian J. Heinz also drew critical acclaim for Fuchs's powerful paintings. Stephanie Zvirin declared in Booklist that "the magnificent, hazy double-page spreads evoke with equal majesty the chilling quiet of the brutal landscape" and the "energy and frenzy" of the animals. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that the artist's "wintry oils … feature hauntingly intense wolves and terrified, desperate elks," adding that the softened lines replace detail by "drafting [the] readers' imaginations."
In 1998, Fuchs teamed up with award-winning author Jane Yolen to produce Raising Yoder's Barn, the story
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of an Amish barn-building. When Matthew Yoder's barn is struck by lightning and burns to the ground, the whole community turns out to build one to replace it. In a Booklist review, GraceAnne A. DeCandido complimented that Fuchs's paintings "make the plain clothing, broad faces, and sunlight fields glow with sumptuous light."
Fuchs illustrates a different kind of tale for Odds Bodkin, who tells the story of the ghost of a ship known as the Southern Belle in Ghost of the Southern Belle: A Sea Tale. The captain of the Southern Belle is known for his fearlessness, to the point where he gives away a good luck charm to the narrator. The following All Hallow's Eve, the ship crashes, and its crew become ghosts, manning a ghostly version of their old ship. The narrator begins to plan how he can help the ship and crew move on to the afterlife. "Readers can nearly feel a bracing sea breeze blowing off Fuchs's … darkly eerie oil paintings," praised a reviewer for Publishers Weekly.
Turning from folk tales to biography, Fuchs illustrated Stephen Krensky's Shooting for the Moon: The Amazing Life and Times of Annie Oakley, about the sharp-shooting-est woman in the Wild West. A Publishers Weekly contributor considered Shooting for the Moon a "bull's-eye of a collaboration."
In 2004 Fuchs made his debut as an author with the self-illustrated story Ride like the Wind: A Tale of the Pony Express. The story features on a boy and his horse, Johnny Free the brave Pony Express rider and JennySoo, his loyal mount. Although Johnny is friends with a young Paiute boy named Little Grey, the Paiutes are unhappy about the change the Pony Express will bring into their territory. As Johnny quickly rides the route, he is pursued by Paiutes and falls from JennySoo's back when he is hit by an arrow. Luckily, JennySoo finds her way back to him and brings him to safety; when the pair are almost in danger a second time, Little Grey intervenes to save them. The story "has the rough-riding excitement of an old-fashioned Lone Ranger episode," explained a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who noted that the paintings "explode with color." Grace Oliff, writing for School Library Journal, described wrote that "the nicely paced, tightly written text captures the excitement and drama" of the tale, while a critic for Kirkus Reviews praised Ride like the Wind as "An engaging depiction of a unique slice of American frontier history." In a review for Five Owls, Gary Schmidt commented that the story "carries with it all the speed and excitement of a serial western…. All of this excitement and pace is captured in Fuchs' oil paintings, as the artist uses layers of paint and the textures of the canvas itself to blur the lines of the illustrations and enhance both action and landscape."
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Biographical and Critical Sources
Illustrators in America: 1880–1980, Madison Square Press, 1984.
Booklist, September 1, 1993, Sheilamae O'Hara, review of Champions: Stories of Ten Remarkable Athletes, pp. 48-49; October 1, 1995, p. 309; September 15, 1998, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Raising Yoder's Barn, p. 240.
Horn Book, January-February, 1990, Lois F. Anderson, review of Ragtime Tumptie, pp. 57-58; November-December, 1993, Maeve Visser Knoth, review of Champions: Stories of Ten Remarkable Athletes, pp. 755-756.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2004, review of Ride like the Wind: A Tale of the Pony Express, p. 221.
New York Times Book Review, February 25, 1990, Liz Rosenberg, review of Ragtime Tumpie, p. 33.
Publishers Weekly, July 12, 1993, p. 81; August 28, 1995, review of Carolina Shout!, p. 113; October 28, 1996, review of The Wolves, p. 81; August 10, 1998, review of Raising Yoder's Barn, p. 387; August 16, 1999, review of Ghost of the Southern Belle: A Sea Tale, p. 85; October 8, 2001, review of Shooting for the Moon: The Amazing Life and Times of Annie Oakley, p. 64; March 1, 2004, review of Ride like the Wind, p. 69.
School Library Journal, September, 1993, p. 244; October, 1994, Ruth Semrau, review of Carolina Shout!, pp. 118-119; September 15, 1996, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Wolves, p. 240; October, 1996, p. 114; September, 2001, Louise L. Sherman, review of Shooting for the Moon, p. 216; March, 2004, Grace Oliff, review of Ride like the Wind, p. 158.
American Sport Art Museum and Archives Online, http://www.www.asama.org/ (July 13, 2005).
Five Owls Online, http://www.fiveowls.com/ (April 19, 2005), Gary Schmidt, review of Ride like the Wind.
Southport Harbor Gallery Web site, http://www.southportharborgallery.com/ (July 13, 2005).