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In the comments on last week's blog, listener Michael wrote of the "brilliantly talented artists" who worked in advertising in the mid-20th Century. He's right, they certainly were brilliant.

I'm enjoying the unique possibilities of the 21st Century, so I don't want to sound like a luddite, but I think the average person had a lot more everyday contact with evidence of hand-made artistry during much of the 20th. Before photography became the dominant commercial art (subsequently trounced by the computer as art-making tool), illustrators of amazing skill were putting beautifully made work in thousands of magazines and books--work which displayed keen observation, sophisticated design sense, and recognizable human interaction with the materials of pen, brush, ink, paint, and paper. Maybe the excellence of the work wasn't always consciously noticed by the reader or consumer, but it was the visual context for a lot of mass communication, and surely had an effect.

These thoughts make me want to point out a couple of blogs I like to visit, where the work of some of these artists are celebrated. One is Today's Inspiration, where blogger Leif Peng posts wonderful examples of, and commentary about, such unknown greats as Fletcher Martin, Louis S. Glanzman, Naiad and Walter Einsel, Lowell Hess, and Al Parker.

Another is Golden Age Comic Book Stories, which occasionally features exactly that, but is also a compendium of amazing artistic arcana, including recent posts covering such things as photos of Marilyn Monroe, The Fighting Yank comics, paperback covers by George Barr and Jim Steranko, 19th Century illustrator Walter Appleton Clark, railroad illustrations by William Harnden Foster, and numerous examples of N. C. Wyeth. The blogger is "Mr. Door Tree," and he posts gorgeous scans (click on the small versions to see them large) at a prolific, generous pace.

Another celebration of creative, hand-crafted design is the new Bauhaus exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. After seeing part of the exhibit earlier this week I had to leave to avoid brain-stimulation-overload, but I'll return to see the rest soon!

What inspiring things have you been seeing?