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Robert Weaver at SVA
School of Visual Arts Collection: Poster for Robert Weaver: Retrospective 1956-1977.
June 28, 2014

Robert Weaver at SVA

By: bethkleber

In 1984, Marshall Arisman, chair of the newly inaugurated SVA MFA Program “Illustration as Visual Essay”, asked long-time faculty member Robert Weaver to develop and teach a new drawing course. In the introduction to the November 1997 issue of drawing/sva, Arisman recounts what Weaver told him about his conception for the class:

“After World War II Ben Shahn startled me with drawings and paintings of very ordinary people sitting on park benches. They were not heroic, but rather harsh. I’d like students to draw from life, people who are not professional models…real people with real lives…who would talk to them while they drew.”

For the class, Weaver brought in “belly dancers, street musicians, window washers, actors who put on their stage makeup in front of the class, nuns, ballet dancers, fireman and any number of interesting, eccentric and ordinary people he met in his daily travels.” Arisman called his friend and colleague “the undisputed pioneer of contemporary expressive illustration” and the first issue of drawing/sva (edited by Paul Davis) was devoted to the lyrical work and legacy of Weaver, who passed away in 1994.

Black and white charcoal illustration of a young man raising his hand

 
School of Visual Arts Collection: Page from drawing/sva, November 1997, an issue devoted to the work of Robert Weaver.

Muted painting (blue and red) of a man's portrait surrounded by books above text

 
Subway poster by Robert Weaver, 1950s.

Color (primarily blue) of a man holding a paintbrush and palette in the subway

 
School of Visual Arts Collection: Subway poster by Robert Weaver, 1983.

Red, black and white illustration of a storefront covered with ads

 
School of Visual Arts Collection: Poster for exhibition of Weaver’s work at SVA, 1959.

Two columns of color, one blue and the other green, with white text overlayed

 
School of Visual Arts Collection. Course announcement, 1950s.

Text in black against white background; header reads "A Visual Jam Session" in block letters

 
School of Visual Arts Collection. Course announcement, 1950s.