Famous Friday- Bernie Fuchs

Who knew a world-renown artist was born in O’Fallon? This week’s topic is the artwork and life of Bernie Fuchs. This man became one of America’s most notable artists. Bernie Fuchs was born in O’Fallon, Illinois in October 1932, attended O’Fallon Township High School, and enrolled in Washington University. Fuch’s main passion was actually music, especially jazz trumpet. However, he had an accident at the machine shop he worked in after high school and lost three of his fingers. This accident ended his musical ambitions. It was after this unfortunate event that he decided to enroll in art school and came to be famously known for his paintings.

Fuchs would take photographs of his subjects and return to his studio where he worked on vividly turning them into life. Fuchs began doing illustrations for The Ladies Home Journal, McCalls, Redbook, and many others. Most notably, he contributed numerous amounts of artwork to Sports Illustrated. Fuchs was the youngest illustrator ever elected to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. Notably, he painted portraits of U.S. Presidents and historic figures including, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. Athletes like Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, and Muhammad Ali are also stunningly displayed in paintings created by his artistic talent. His photos have a way of defining history and moments in time that we should never forget. 

Illustrator Bernie Fuchs drew this lifelike depiction of Jesse Owens.

Next time you’re in the library, take a peek in our magazine room and you will notice two of Bernie Fuch’s paintings. Some of the children’s books in our collection contain Fuch’s illustrations and are also worth a look. The way he depicts people and objects onto canvas can be greatly admired by any age.                                                           

Ragtime Tumpie by Alan Schroeder, Illustrated by Bernie Fuchs- Tells the story of a young black girl who will later become famous as the dancer Josephine Baker, longs to find the opportunity to dance amid the poverty and vivacious street life of St. Louis in the early 1900s.

The Wolves by Brian J. Heinz, Illustrated by Bernie Fuchs- Recounts how a wolf pack struggles to survive in the frozen North and includes an author’s note describing the dwindling wolf population in America and the threat of extinction.

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