The idea of painting all species of North American birds began with John James Audubon in the early 1800s. Other wildlife artists soon followed, embracing his passion and focus. Arthur B. Singer was among one of those artists who perfected the painting skills and technique required to capture, not only the essence of his subjects, but give his art aesthetic appeal based on scientific observation.
Influenced by Rungius, Fuertes, and Kuhnert, Singer's fascination with drawing and painting began when he was a young teenager. In this first biography, Arthur Singer, The Wildlife Art of an American Master, sons Paul and Alan describe a career of more than forty years, accompanied by vivid color reproductions of his extensive artwork.
Included in Singer's biography are several unpublished works not yet seen by his collectors or fans. Some of these images include sketches of American jazz artists, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller and Duke Ellington, whom he befriended in the late 1930s. In this book are paintings Singer created while traveling the world or preparing additions to his volumes on ornithology.
As a student at the Cooper Union Art School in New York City, Singer experimented with abstractions from nature which fueled his ambition to become a wildlife artist. After graduating from college, his artistic career took a turn in 1944 when he entered the U.S. Army during World War II. His talents were recognized by a general who assigned him to a special unit—the 603rd Camouflage Engineers—whose mission was visual deception against enemy forces. This band of artists were also known as “The Ghost Army” and they created not only camouflage, but visual, sonic, and audio deception to undermine German intelligence.
Once his Army obligation had ended, Singer worked briefly for an advertising agency and then became a full-time illustrator and painter in the mid-1950s. He received the Augustus St. Gaudens Medal in 1962, after his bird paintings appeared in the book Birds of the World which sold more than half a million copies.
Perhaps he is best known for his paintings of state birds which were seen by millions when the U.S. Postal Service issued the State Birds & Flowers stamps in 1982. Alan Singer assisted his father in creating art for this set of commemorative stamps which became one of the largest selling series in U.S. Postal history. Singer's talent was honored when he was issued the Hal Borland Award from the National Audubon Society in 1985 upon the 200th anniversary of Audubon's birth.
Since Singer's death in 1990, his artwork has had several retrospective exhibitions including the New York Zoological Society's Central Park Zoo Gallery, the Wendell Gilley Museum, the Buffalo Museum of Natural History, Caumsett State Park's Marshall Field Gallery, The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, among others. Most recently, Singer's watercolors painted during his army years have appeared in the documentary and book entitled, The Ghost Army of World War II, which has helped generate a new interest in the artwork of the 603rd Camouflage Unit.
Introduction By David J. Wagner, Ph.D., Society of Animal Artists. Illustrations: 237, mostly color; Size: 11 x 11 inches.