February 10, 1935 - January 27,1992
John Alcorn compiled a list of accomplishments and honors unexcelled in the field of the applied arts. From his early years at Esquire, Push Pin Studios, and CBS he helped to define and expand the boundaries of modern visual communication. He is, quite simply stated, one of the few who has affected the way our world looks, functions and does business.
His presence in the world of publishing is legendary. The work done for Rizzoli of Milan, Italy stands as a remarkable example of effective visual marketing of product and corporate image. The scope, virtuosity and enormous volume of Alcorn's efforts for Longanesi & Co., Mondadori, and numerous U.S. publishers of books of books and magazines confirms his pre-eminence in this field.
Alcorn's power and charm as illustrator is so pervasive that it often threatens to eclipse his identity as designer and problem solver. It is his immaculate sense of concept and message that gives his pictorial solutions a sense of absolute inevitability.
In addition to his accomplishments in the areas of packaging, corporate and dimensional design, Alcorn designed the opening titles for several Fellini films.
Accolades have come from art director's, film, and illustrators' societies around the world. His work has been exhibited at the Louvre in Paris, the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, and the Venice Biennale. He was the recipient of the prestigious Augustus Saint-Gaudens Medal from Cooper Union. In 1970, he was selected as the first graphic artist to be Artist-In-Residence at Dartmouth College. In 1987 he was Artist-In-Residence at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Career: Commercial artist and designer, illustrator of children's books. Early in career worked variously in the art department of Esquire, New York City, at Push Pin Studios, New York City, and for a pharmaceutical advertising agency.;
Columbia Broadcasting System Inc., New York City, art department, radio and television promotion, 1958-59, free-lance artist, 1959 - has created numerous book jackets and paperback covers, and work has appeared in major exhibits, including the
Push Pin Studios Retrospective Show at the Louvre, March, 1970, Awards, honors: New York Times choice of Best Illustrated Children's Books of the Year, 1962 for Books!. 1966, for Wonderful Time; Fifty Books of the Year, American Institute of
Graphic Arts, 1963, for Books!; first prize Bologna Children's Book Fair, 1968; Augustus St. Gaudens Medal, The Cooper Union, 1970.
Illustrator - All for children, except as indicated: Murray McCain, Books! (nonfiction), J. Cape, 1962; Al Hine, Where in the World Do You Live? (fiction), Harcourt, 1962; Mary Kay Phelan, The Circus, Holt, 1963; Ogden Nash,
Everyone but Thee and Me (adult poems), Dent, 1963; Hine, Money Round the World, Harcourt, 1963; Stella Standard, The Art of Fruit Cookery, Doubleday, 1964; Sesyle Joslin, The Petite Famille (French language reader), Harcourt, 1964;
Television Note Book: 1964, Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 1964; McCain, Writing! (nonfiction), Ariel, 1964. Hine, A Letter to Anywhere (nonfiction), Harcourt, 1964; Marie Winn and Alan Miller, The Fireside Book of Children's Songs,
Simon and Schuster, 1966; Phyllis McGinley, Wonderful Time (poems), Lippincott, 1966; Joslin, La Fiesta (Spanish language reader), Harcourt, 1967; Jan Wahl, Pocahontas in London (fiction), Delacorte, 1967; Martin Gardner, Never Make Fun of a
Turtle, My Son (poems), Simon & Schuster, 1969; One, Two, Three, Hallmark, 1970; The Great Book of Puzzles and Perplexities, 1978.
He also illustrated and designed numerous book jackets and paperback covers, two print catalogs, and contributed illustrations to many periodicals, including McCalls, Playboy, and Sports Illustrated.
Sidelights: A native New Yorker, John Alcorn was born in Corona, Long Island in 1935, at 5 years of age his family moved to Great Neck Long Island. He was educated in the local schools.
He studied graphic arts at The Cooper Union. During his first two years at Cooper Union, he studied drawing, calligraphy, architecture, the mechanics of typography, and dimensional design.
In his last year his studies consisted of illustration, graphics and advertising design.
Following graduation from Cooper Union, Alcorn married and in 1962 settled in Ossining, N.Y. where he lived with his wife Phyllis, and their four sons. In 1971 he moved with his family to Florence, Italy. In 1977 he returned wit hhis family to the United States, settling in Cold Spring, N.Y. In 1983 Alcorn and his wife moved to Hambrurg Cove in Lyme, CT.
His early career included work in the art department of Esquire Magazine, a brief stint with a pharmaceutical advertising agency and sound training at the Push Pin Studios, the celebrated design studio founded by Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast, Reynold Ruffins and Edward Sorel. In 1958 Alcorn joined
CBS Radio and subsequently CBS-TV art department, but a year later he decided to free-lance exclusively. In 1962 Alcorn designed and illustrated Books by Murray McCain, which was selected as one of the best
fifty books of the year by the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Besides book illustrations, Alcorn designed numerous paperback covers, jackets, and promotion materials, and received awards from the
New York Art Directors Club, the Society of Illustrators, and Cooper Union. In 1968 he won first prize at the Bologna Children's Book Fair.
Alcorn's works are included in the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota.
For more information: American Artist, September, 1958; Graphis, November, 1958, Vol. 27, 1971-72; Newsweek, June 10, 1963; Publishers Weekly, June 1, 1964; Lee Kingman and others compilers, Illustrators of Children's Books, 1957-1966, Horn Book, 1968; Doris de Montrville and Donna Hill, editors, Third Book of Junior Authors, H. W. Wilson, 1972.
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