By Alan E. Cober

A well-liked artist ventured at the back of locked doorways to painting 3 "forgotten" social sessions: the aged, humans in psychological associations, and the felony inhabitants. Alan E. Cober started his occupation within the Nineteen Sixties, while representation took a flip towards a brand new expressionism. motivated by way of the works of Ben Shahn, George Grosz, and Albrecht Dürer, he believed that narrative paintings may possibly tell public attitudes towards political and social concerns. Cober's objective as a "visual journalist" was once to impression switch via graphically exposing the realities of our times.
The Forgotten Society offers ninety-two of Cober's such a lot compelling and emotionally charged "visual essays." The designated pen-and-ink images demonstrate the hidden worlds of individuals faraway from the general public eye, together with citizens of retirement houses, of Staten Island's Willowbrook kingdom tuition, and of Sing Sing Correctional Facility. The artist, who often befriended his matters, bargains compassionate perspectives of the isolation of lives lived at the margins of society. Cober obtained many awards in his lifetime and used to be lately inducted into the Society of Illustrators' corridor of popularity. This variation gains an insightful advent via his daughter, Leslie Cober-Gentry, who notes, "Cober's artwork was once approximately conversation. the realm used to be his audience."

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Lou Jacobs, the 6' 1" legend of clowns, was a favorite model of Cober’s. Other famous performers who were happy to model for him were Mishu, the “smallest man on earth”; Philippe Petit, the famous high-wire artist who later gained fame for his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974; the lion tamer Gunther Gebel-Williams; and any other person or animal that was interesting to him. He drew their living conditions in their trailers and their families and pets, reaching into a culture unknown to the audience who was viewing it from the bleachers.

This drawing won a gold medal for books in the Society of Illustrators annual show in 1976. The book won a gold medal from the Art Directors Club of New York. Cober illustrated each person, along with his or her habits. There was the illustrated picture of a “head-bobber” and the man who twirled his string. ” At home, Cober would speak about his friend Jimmy. “My friend Jimmy,” Cober inscribed, “for a while I sent him post cards whenever I went somewhere but like everyone else it was easy to forget and I just stopped.

In the 1960s, it was unheard of for illustrators to present their own assignments to the art director to exercise their own point of view. A few progressive art directors opened their pages to work that complemented this editorial comment. Alan Cober traveled the country visiting the national parks of the United States for a series of posters he was creating for the National Parks Service. He was commissioned to complete several illustrations of Mount Rushmore; Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello; the Battle of Gettysburg; and Colonial Williamsburg.

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