The World, the Work and the West of W. H. D. Koerner. By W. H.
Hutchinson. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1979. Pp.
iii +218. Acknowledgments, appendices, bibliography. $35.)
W. H. D. Koerner was one of the multitude of eastern illustrators
during the period (1910-1935) "when the mass-circulation magazines
were the television screens of their day and their advertisements were
the commercials" (p. 3). W. H. Hutchinson was attracted to Koerner's
work through the illustrations that were done for many of the short
stories of Eugene Manlove Rhodes which appeared in magazines such as
the Saturday Evening Post. Exhausting the subject of Rhodes-Little
World Waddies (1946); A Bar Cross Man: The Life and Personal Writ-
ings of Eugene Manlove Rhodes (1956); The Rhodes Reader (1957 S&
1975); A Bar Cross Liar: A Bibliography of Eugene Manlove Rhodes
(1958) -Hutchinson has now turned his attention to the man who illus-
trated some of Rhodes's most well-known stories.
Western art has become something of a phenomenon for regional
publishers in the last few years. Harold McCracken's books on Frederic
Remington (1948) and Charles M. Russell (1957) blazed the trail in this
field. There were earlier western art titles, but these were the first to
have any genuine commercial success.
During the last five years there has been an avalanche of new books
on both western artists of today, and those of earlier periods. The curi-
ous thing about most of these books is that hardly anyone ever reads
them. It seems that people who buy western art books are strong believ-
ers in the old axiom "a picture is worth a thousand words," and are con-
tent to evaluate the book by the number and quality of illustrations.
Rarely does a western art enthusiast actually "read" a western art
book. Those who do are quick to discover the primary fault of such
texts: they almost always deal exclusively with the artist's biography,
and never go into appropriate artistic considerations.
The World, the Work and the West of W. H. D. Koerner is some-
thing of a departure from the norm. There are, as we have come to ex-
pect, numerous illustrations of Koerner's work in both color and black
and white. But there is also, refreshingly, a serious, well-researched, and
carefully written text. The author offers us a precise and exacting exer-
cise in biographical and bibliographical form. Through this book we
find out everything we ever wanted to know (and a lot we didn't) about
the career of this contemporary of N. C. Wyeth and Harvey Dunn.
What is lacking is the heart and inspiration that we expect to find in
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101207/. Accessed July 4, 2015.