Legendary illustrator Bernie Fuchs, who mixed modern art abstraction with the powerful imagery of illustration to create one of the most influential styles in 20th century commercial art, died last week. David Apatoff wrote about him several years ago:

At the same time, another painter– Bernie Fuchs– dealt with the exact same aesthetic problems in a different forum. Like Motherwell, Rauschenberg and Kline, Fuchs rejected the realistic painting of his predecessors (such as Norman Rockwell) and focused on broader qualities of abstract design and composition.

If we compare Fuchs’ art with the work of the other three painters, applying the same standards, it is difficult to tell which painter is superior. Fuchs’ compositions were equally bold and lovely. The colors and shapes were comparable. In fact, the only consistent difference between Fuchs and the three “fine” artists was the purpose for which the art was created. Motherwell, Rauschenberg and Kline created art for art’s sake. Fuchs’ art had a commercial function. He created art for a client’s sake, for he is an illustrator.