Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wilhelm M Busch

Wilhelm M Busch (1908-1987) is one of my favorite artists.
I keep thinking, when I grow up I want to draw like him.
After many years of not looking at his work I sort of rediscovered him when Hans Bacher started to post some of his incredible book illustrations. Go to Hans' blog and check out much more on Busch.

 I rushed over to amazon/Germany and ordered a whole bunch of books that included his work. Busch illustrated over 300 books during his lifetime.
He also taught illustration in Hamburg, Germany.
His illustration style changed over the years, yet every period of his life shows genius. Sometimes it's realistic other times very caricatured. It can be just linear or fully rendered. 
He never mocked anybody else. Looking at his art, you realize that it is totally based on his own personal observation. The way characters relate to each other, the fantastic sense of perspective, composition and mood...he owns all that, it's his.
And there is great story telling, too.
This man spent quality time looking at things, the human body, drawing at the circus and the zoo as well as studying environments.
I could go on...and I might in future posts. For now here is a very small sampling of his book illustrations.

Have you ever seen a more beautiful drawing of a couple dancing than this first drawing?


  1. I have seen Hans' posts of W.H.Busch's drawings and what strikes me is that his characters all feel somewhat anonymous. His drawings are unique and beautifully composed but there is also something about them that leaves me cold. Maybe it is because most of the time the eyes are hidden or drawn as fleeting marks. Still, great technique and looseness of style. These are done mostly in ball point and felt tip pen, I believe.

  2. Sorry, Uli, couldn't disagree with you more.
    To me his characters connect with each other.
    The dancing couple, boss and secretary, the woman walking in on a suicide...I totally get what they are thinking. There's way more here than just technique.

  3. I love this, thank you Andreas!
    I wish there was a collection book with his work. I especially like the "one line feeling" ones, like the lady in the bathroom and the guy sitting on the bed.
    Wonder if Olaf Gulbransson and him were friends.

  4. I would never suggest these drawings to be merely technical, they just don't grab me personally as much. They do tell a story and that makes them more than just technique.
    Thank you for sharing them :-)

  5. Hello Sir,
    Your blog is full of inspiration, i'm a Animation student, not a professional art student but loves to draw n sketch. My all time inspiration are those "Nine Old Men"."The Illusion of Life" by Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston is a Masterpiece. Thank you for sharing all the inner treasures of Disney....


  6. actually the second image of the couple is my favourite over the first one. It feel that there's lot more 'story' within it. I love it and I love Busch's drawings in general.

    Thanks for sharing these Andreas! :)

  7. there is catalogue out with tons of his finest drawings - edition curt visel, memmingen, kunstler-monographien band 4, only 800 numbered books, 1983, ISBN 3-922406-181-1. a good address to get it -

  8. Beautifully drawn, each character looks silent, but in a way when you look at them you know they're thinking in something else... Or the couple, you know they're having a true conection while they're dancing!
    Wow! I'm really amazed!
    Lately I've been studying a lot of ink pen-made drawings, but these ones are really amazing!
    I'm going to study him more! Thanks for posting the link for the blog.
    Just a question.. Did he made a study before every drawing we just saw, or he only drew what he felt and saw in the moment??

  9. Thanks for sharing, Andreas, his work is wonderful. Thank you also for the link to One1more2time3's Weblog. What a wealth of beautiful work! Very much appreciated.

  10. Wow, I think Wilhelm's art is fantastic.
    What kind of books did he illustrate?

  11. I always wondered, as a child and a fan of you, if you maintained bonds to your German origins or you was so absorbed by the Burbank environment to consider them as something to overcome. As a european I'm delighted to see that not only you kept them on a personal level, but you've also incorporated an artistic tradition and have brought it to the ultimate form of art. I never heard anything about Busch, but I adore this masterpiece and I worship Bacher's book Real Worlds! Learned so much by reading it! Now that I know one of his idols it will be delightful to reread it discovering new things

  12. Thank you for the introduction to this amazing artist - those first three images are indeed sublime! :)

  13. Ive not seen his work before he is amazing! really interesting line work !

  14. Beautiful work. I'm afraid I'm not familiar with his name, so this is a great find. I wonder if the Nine Old Men were greatly influenced by him. They're work in the late 60's - early 70's remind me of his style...particularly 101 you get this sense too? Thanks Andreas...

  15. Hans,
    thanks for the tip. I have to get that catalogue!

    Busch planned his book illustrations in form of loose sketches, mostly in pencil.

    he illustrated just about anything, from classic literature
    to a guide through German wine regions.
    Lots of animal and circus stuff, too.

    Mr Creative,
    I am convinced the old Disney animators never saw his work. Busch isn't known here in the US.

  16. Wow. Thanks Andreas...Keep em coming. Thank you for your work and perpetual enthusiasm for your craft, BTW. You help keep us all inspired!

  17. Oh, man! Such life--his lines are PERFECT!

  18. Great work, I love the high angle drawing of the horse drawn carriage. I really feel the connection between the two people in the first three drawings.

    I love how two of the Nuns in the first row have this evil look on their faces, so funny.