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 James S. Avati  (1912 - 2005)

About: James S. Avati


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Lived/Active: New York/New Jersey      Known for: illustrator-book, genre, figure

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BIOGRAPHY for James Avati
1912 (New Jersey)

New York/New Jersey

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illustrator-book, genre, figure

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
One of the successful illustrators in the mid-to-late-20th century, an era of declining appreciation for traditional illustration, James Avati survived professionally by turning from magazine art to covers for sensational novels.  Many of these books, descendants of the popular pulp magazines during the war, had scenes of hair-raising violence and sexuality that challenged middle class conservatism.  Of Avati, it was written that his "approach was honest and unblinkingly realistic, in keeping with the gritty fiction that was becoming popular in books and movies, but he painted with an artistry that won readership for the books, and a score of imitators who tried to emulate the 'Avati' look." (Reed 306)

During this time Avati also did traditional magazine illustrations, and his clients included Colliers, American Magazine, McCall's and Atlantic Monthly. He was a member and exhibitor of the Society of Illustrators. From New Jersey, he was a graduate of Princeton University, where he earned a degree in architecture. However, he was self-taught as an artist. He moved to New York City in the 1930s and had jobs as a decorative painter for a department store and as a commercial artist for ad agencies.  He served in the army during World War II and then took a book-cover assignment in 1948 with the New American Library’s The Last of the Conquerers by William Gardner Smith.  He also did covers for novels by Erskine Caldwell, William Styron, Pearl Buck and Irwin Shaw.

In the 1970s, when he was in his sixties, he began teaching illustration at Princeton University, his alma mater.

Sources include:

Walt Reed, "The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000". p. 306
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art", p. 155

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