- September 4
) was an American illustrator who was considered the pioneer of a contemporary approach to the field that began in the 1950s. Beginning in 1952, he embarked on a mission to combine the visual ideas found in fine art with the responsibility of journalist. At the time, most practitioners of illustration were expected to paint and draw for advertising and magazine assignments with artwork that was conservative, idealized and saccharine. Rarely was the artist called upon to inject their own opinion into the matter. Weaver changed all of that with by moving the role of the illustrator from page decorator to a journalist who ventured out into the world and used a pencil to observe the world, record the facts, draw from life, and create visual essays. This approach would later be termed "visual journalism
" and in 1983 would form the basis of a special masters degree, Illustration as Visual Essay, from the School of Visual Arts
in New York.
In an article for the AIGA in 1990, noted graphic art historian Steve Heller categorized Weaver as a journalistic illustrator. Other artists included Bob Gill, Jack Beck, Robert Andrew Parker, Thomas B. Allen and Philip Hays. They received crucial assignments from a group of visionary art directors that included Cipe Pineles, Leo Lionni, Otto Storch and Henry Wolf.
For 5 decades, Weaver created work for clients such as Esquire, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, Life, Look, The New York Times and Columbia Records. These patrons allowed him to cover stories with the same mission afforded a photojournalist, such as the time he covered John F. Kennedy's campaign.
Known for bringing the narrative qualities of cinematic storytelling to his profession, Weaver once said, "Life is not a single snapshot, it is a series of events that are chain linked and proceed frame by frame."
- A Master of Change by Steven Heller, 1990, AIGA article on Paul Davis
- Exhibition essay, Seeing Is Not Believing: Norman Rockwell Museum
"To fiction illustration the illustrator should bring the accuracy of journalism, to journalism the drama of fiction, and to editorial illustration the contradictions of reality."
Robert Weaver, 1979