See All Topics

Home / Section: Books

Jerry Pinkney – RIP

Famed illustrator Jerry Pinkney has passed away.

 
Jerry Pinkney
December 22, 1939 – October 21, 2021

 

From NPR:

The celebrated illustrator Jerry Pinkney has died. According to his long-time agent Sheldon Fogelman, Pinkney suffered a heart attack today; he was 81.

Pinkney was a legend in the world of children’s publishing. He won a Caldecott medal for his 2010 picture book The Lion and The Mouse; he also won five Coretta Scott King awards from the American Library Association and a lifetime achievement award from the Society of Illustrators. Over the course of a nearly six-decade long career, he left his mark on over a hundred books, mostly for kids and teenagers, beginning with The Adventures of Spider: West African Folk Tales in 1964.

From the Publishers Weekly obituary:

Thanks to Pinkney’s growing reputation as an illustrator, he garnered a number of commissioned projects in the 1970s. Among his favorites were a series of African American historical calendars for Seagrams, album covers for RCA Records, and a line of limited-edition books for Franklin Library that included Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Pinkney also received a commission to create the initial eight postage stamps for the U.S. Postal Service’s Black Heritage series.

In 1987 Pinkney collaborated with author Julius Lester for The Tales of Uncle Remus (Dial). For that project Pinkney took another new approach to the art by dressing up in baggy clothes to model and pose as the animals. Lester and Pinkney became friends and collaborated on a number of titles, including John Henry (Dial, 1994), a 1995 Caldecott Honor Book.

Pinkney pointed to Mirandy and Brother Wind by Patricia McKissack (Knopf, 1988), a 1989 Caldecott Honor Book, as the project that ultimately convinced him to fully focus on a picture-book career.


John Henry © Julius Lester & Jerry Pinkney; all others © Jerry Pinkney

From Jerry’s 2011 induction into The Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame:

Jerry Pinkney’s icons of living culture have, since 1960, been an important part of the American visual landscape. Created for the covers and pages of periodicals and picture books, postage stamps, greeting cards, advertisements, and well-traveled historic sites, his art is intimately encountered by a vast and eager audience seeking meaning in the stories he has chosen to tell. Intricately conceived, his narratives imbue ordinary activities with a sense of historical importance, and his exquisite characters and meticulously researched details inspire belief by millions in the vision that he continues to refine.

From Jerry’s biography at Illustration History:

Across his fifty year journey as an illustrator, Jerry Pinkney (b.1939) has cast a warm, curious eye on our world to create transcendent images that reflect his passion for life, his love of family and community, and his deep and abiding engagement with the rich complexities of history. A master watercolorist with a distinct personal message to convey, he reminds us that no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted, in elegant images that celebrate life’s small but extraordinary moments, the wonders of classic literature, and the wisdom of those who have gone before us.

Jerry Pinkney’s icons of living culture have, since 1960, been an important part of the American visual landscape … his art is intimately encountered by a vast and eager audience seeking meaning in the stories he has chosen to tell. Intricately conceived, his narratives imbue ordinary activities with a sense of historical importance, and his exquisite characters and meticulously researched details inspire belief by millions in the vision that he continues to refine.

Check the Jerry Pinkney Studios site for great art and more information.

Community Comments

#1 Jim Garrett
October/21/2021
@ 2:41 pm

Rest In Peace. His version of The Little Match Girl is extraordinary.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.