Inspiring Artists #001: Art Young Finds Inspiration At Night

Art Young (1866-1943) was a cartoonist, writer, and activist that was known for the political cartoons he contributed to publications such as The Masses, The Liberator, The Saturday Evening Post, The New Yorker, and others. He is also known for his series of illustrations depicting hell called “Art Young’s Inferno: A Journey Through Hell Six Hundred Years After Dante” (1934).

Arthur Henry Young grew up in Monroe, Wisconsin. It was apparent from an early age that he had a talent for drawing the objects and people around him. Art was inspired by ink artists such as Thomas Nast and Gustav Doré.

The Vision of The Valley of Dry Bones (Dore)
Gustav Doré - The Vision of The Valley of Dry Bones

As a young adult he sold his first drawing to a magazine for $7. Not long after that Art left Monroe for the big cities of Chicago and then New York. He made a living contributing drawings to local newspapers while attending various art schools, such as the Chicago Academy of Design and The Art Students League of New York. Art worked primarily in pen and ink and refined his skills by sketching everywhere he went, a habit he developed early in life and maintained well into his later years.

My first exposure to Art Young’s work was a series of drawings he did in his later years entitled “Trees At Night”. These pieces consisted of silhouettes of trees with human-like shapes and poses. Inspiration for them came during long walks at night under the stars. “Any night I could walk or ride along the road and see interesting silhouettes made by tree forms, many of them so clearly defined as to need no improvement on my part.”, wrote Art in his diary. The first few were published in The Saturday Evening Post and proved popular, drawing impassioned letters from the readers. The Post requested more pieces, and the series ran for over a year, publishing them every other week. Young released them in a book in 1927.

Enough words. Here are some of my favourites from Art Young’s series “Trees At Night”.

Art Young - Archangel (Trees At Night)

Art Young - Archangel (Trees At Night)
Art Young - Weary And Heavy Laden (Trees At Night)
Art Young - Weary And Heavy Laden (Trees At Night)

 Art Young - They Were Lonesome (Trees At Night)

Art Young - They Were Lonesome (Trees At Night)

Art Young - Devil's Orchestra (Trees At Night)

Art Young - Devil's Orchestra (Trees At Night)

Art Young - Bogies (Trees At Night)

Art Young - Bogies (Trees At Night)

Art Young - Phantasy (Trees At Night)

 Art Young - Phantasy (Trees At Night)

Art Young - Mother Nature (Trees At Night)

Art Young - Mother Nature (Trees At Night)
Art Young - Cathedral (Trees At Night)
Art Young - Cathedral (Trees At Night)

Art Young - Caravan (Trees At Night)

Art Young - Caravan (Trees At Night)

Art Young - Like Birds In Their Flight (Trees At Night)

Art Young - Like Birds In Their Flight (Trees At Night)

References:

Young, Art (1939). Art Young – His Life and Times. Sheridan House

Young, Art (1927). Trees At Night. New York: Boni and Liveright

Popova, Maria, Brainpickings.org, Trees At Night: Stunning Rorschach Silhouettes From The 1920’s, <https://www.brainpickings.org/2019/08/06/trees-at-night-art-young/>

Wikipedia, Art Young, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Young>