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 Tom Lovell  (1909 - 1997)

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Lived/Active: New York/New Mexico      Known for: western genre painting, magazine and pulp illustrator

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A well-known illustrators in New York City and then a painter of Western subjects, Tom Lovell paid great attention to details in his work and, because of this, seldom completed more than a dozen major oil paintings a year.

Lovell was born in New York City and attended high school in Nutley New Jersey. As valedictorian of his class, he spoke on the "Ill Treatment of the American Indian by the U.S. Government," a harbinger of his depictions of the West.  In 1931, he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Syracuse University in New York.

For thirty-nine years he was a freelance illustrator for many well-known magazines including Colliers, McCalls, and National Geographic.  He was also known as a pulp illustrator, associated with "Dime Mystery" where his "ingenuity at picturing the bizarre instruments of torture dreamed up in the pulp writers' imaginations was nothing short of remarkable". (Haining 135).

In 1975, he and his wife moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and that same year, he was elected to the Cowboy Artists of America.  Many of his paintings focus on historical western subjects such as relations between white men and Indians and early expeditions.

Sources include:
Walt Reed, Illustrator in America
Peggy and Harold Samuels, Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West
Peter Haining, American Pulp Magazines

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Tom Lovell was born in New York City in 1909. He graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1931.  His unyielding fascination with the American Indian dates back some seventy years to his childhood.  He turned his passion into his paintings, which depict his view of life in the Old West.  His work earned him a reputation as Dean of Western Art.  He has won just about every major Western art prize there is.

Lovell began his illustrating career during his junior year at Syracuse.  His art appeared in such magazines such as Life, McCall's, American, Collier's and The Saturday Evening Post.  He was voted into the Society of Illustrators in 1974; he won two gold medals from that group as well as two more gold medals from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.  He began concentrating on Western art when he stopped illustrating for magazines in 1968.

He died in 1997.

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
Syracuse University Magazine, Winter, 1993
From the internet,
Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers, 1986-87

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, IV:
Traditional painter of Western history, born in New York City in 1909 and died in Santa Fe, New Mexico (1998). "I like people," Lovell once said. "If I can communicate some of this feeling in each painting, common ground my be established with the casual spectator. I believe the artist has a certain obligation to interest and inform without being encyclopedic about detail.

"I enjoy recreating the past, " he added. "As a boy, books of adventure in far off times and places were real. At seventeen, I shipped as a deckhand on the Leviathan and various other jobs followed. Enrollment in the College of Fine Arts at Syracuse University was the next step. At this time the newsstands were filled with 'pulp' magazines and I produced a cover in oils and eight or ten dry brush illustrations a month during my senior year. The message on the covers had to outscream a hundred others. After graduation I continued to free lance for the pulps for six years before tackling the 'slicks.' In 1944, I enlisted in the Marine Corps and was assigned to an easel. Illustration continued to flourish after the war."

In 1969, a commission for fourteen large paintings of southwestern history caused Lovell to shift his focus to the American West. Since then, almost all of his work was Western history. In 1974, he won the National Academy of Western Art's Prix de West, was elected to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, and won the Franklin Mint gold medal for prints. Lovell has been featured in Artists of the Rockies, summer of 1980 and in Persimmon Hill. He was a member of the Cowboy Artists of America and NAWA.

Resource: Contemporary Western Artists, by Peggy and Harold Samuels 1982, Judd's Inc., Washington, D.C.

Biography from Thomas Nygard Gallery:
Tom Lovell came to western subject matter with impeccable credentials and the reputation of a mature, highly-regarded artist and illustrator.  A graduate of the College of Fine Arts at Syracuse University, Lovell chose to use his talent to paint western subjects.

Lovell was drawn to the history of the Old West and its wealth of inspiration for the historical painter.  Although drawn from history, Lovell's paintings are fresh and vital, never tired or hackneyed.  The quality of his contribution to contemporary western art is remarkable.  Tom Lovell's work clearly illustrates the argument that western art be regarded as fine art.

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