Bill Charmatz, American (1925 - 2005)

 
Born in Brooklyn, New York with the name of Adolph Charmatz to Russian immigrant parents, Bill Charmatz became an advertising and newspaper illustrator, often with a unique, whimsical combination of Impressionist and Cartoon styles. He was best known for pictorial essays depicting the "joy and folly of sporting events" in the magazine Sports Illustrated in the 1960s and 1970s. Included were drawings of baseball, football and ski teams, which combined a sense of the sweat and grit of the occasions but "always filtered through his light-hearted perspective." However, not all of his subject matter was light hearted. For a magazine published by Exxon-Mobile Company, he did a sensitive series about the daily life of a French family living on an oil barge.

His goal in his drawings was to convey a sense of immediacy, and he often labored over just the right shape of a line to achieve his desired effect.

Charmatz attended the High School of Industrial Arts in New York, and announced to a teacher there that he hated the name Adolph and was adding the name William as his first name. From then on, that new first name was shortened to Bill.

He served in the Navy in the Graphics Unit during World War II and made precise charts. He then studied in Paris at the Ecole Beaux Arts in 1949 and from 1951 to 1952, at the Grande Chaumiere. During the late 1940s, he worked for Alexey Brodovitch, the Art Director of Harper's Bazaar, who encouraged Chavatz to make drawing from a bicycle trip to France. This trip resulted in more than a hundred drawings and watercolors of everyday life in that country and led to frequent commissions from Esquire, TV Guide, Time, Life and The New York Times.

From 1996 to 2004, he was a regular illustrator for the Book Review section of the Times for the Crime column.

He has also done mural commissions, was a long-time member of the Society of Illustrators and was a book illustrator for Macmillan, Grosset & Dunlap and Ballantine as well as others. He did several children's books including My Little Duster and published a collection of cartoons that played with the words 'dear, deer, deranged', etc.

He died at age 80 in Manhattan where he lived on the Upper West Side on September 5, 2005.

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