by Steven Heller and Julius Wiedemann
Hardcover, 2 vols. in slipcase, 640 pages Published by Taschen
Review by Derek Brazell
100 illustrators is a selection of work from illustrators who had previously been featured in Taschen’s Illustration Now! series of books, with the aim being to feature those who have played a significant part in illustration history.
A pre-selection from editor Julius Wiedemann was sent to Steven Heller, who whittled it down to veterans such as Brad Holland, Barbara Nessim and Marshall Arisman alongside younger artists, whilst acknowledging that those who have been illustrating for around twenty years , the ‘middle aged’, should be included and recognised for maintaining a ‘productive career’.
The featured artists receive a very brief overview (in English, Czech and Polish, including quotes from various sources) along with lists of selected exhibitions and publications they have been featured in and up to three spreads of their artwork. Most the work is recent, or from the 2000’s and runs the range from Catalina Estrada’s sumptuous decorative patterned work (below), through the simple, sometimes erotic shapes of Olympia Zagnoli to AOI member, Tony Healy’s distinctive character portraits. Amongst the lifestyle and conceptual imagery some political work is shown adding a welcome bite to the proceedings.
Another AOI member, Simon Spilsbury, is included in the second of these two substantial books (which add up to quite a weight!), and his lively approach contrasts with much of the slick artwork surrounding him.
As often with illustration showcase publications, I’m left wishing I knew more of the context behind the artwork, although the captions do detail the client and materials used. A nice point is the inclusion of illustrators’ self portraits which open their sections, and these reveal a little of the character behind the artists. 100 Illustrators functions as an effective overview of the last few years with a hefty dose of quality artwork over the two volumes.