Louis S. Glanzman (1922 – 2013) was the brother of Sam Glanzman, an American Golden Age comics artist and award-winning historical painter and book illustrator. Although his epic historical paintings appeared in most of America’s national magazines, Louis’s work was also published throughout Europe, and in Japan through the Japanese Art Annual.
Louis was born in Baltimore, Maryland and raised in the farmlands of Virginia, before the economic strain of the Great Depression forced he and his family to move north to Rockaway, New York.
He found work in comic books at the age of 16; his most memorable work was probably a series of stories and covers for the Amazing Man Comics at Centaur, starting with stories he both wrote and drew as “Lew Glanz” starring a character called “The Shark”.
“I got my art training in comics,” he’s quoted as saying in a 2013 tribute on Muddy Colors. “I did go to the School of Industrial Arts in New York but most of the time I played hooky at the burlesque shows on 42nd Street.”
“I enjoyed drawing,” he noted elsewhere, interviewed when 87, but still busy painting, “and comic books were my vessel,” he said, along the way learning the proper techniques for drawing human anatomy and visual perspective. “I was very lucky, I was able to expand my imagination,”
It was at Centaur that Louis also helped secure occasional freelance work for his younger brother, Sam.
Louis served as an illustrator on the Air Force magazine for the US Air Forces in the 1940s, which took him to New York City, where he met editors and other professionals in the publishing industry, and his career in editorial illustration took off from there. Always working as a freelance illustrator, his paintings appeared in Readers Digest, Argosy, Colliers, Boys Life, New Yorker, National Lampoon, the Saturday Evening Post, and more. He illustrated numerous children’s books in the 1950s, including the popular ‘Pippi Longstocking’ series, and his career also led him for a short sojourn as a court reporter for Life magazine.
During his lifetime, he won awards from the Society of Illustrators, Art Directors Club, and the Salmagundi Club. Glanzman’s paintings and portraits are an integral part of many private and national collections throughout the United States, and some also feature in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian, the Civil War Museum, and elsewhere.
Noted as one of America’s most prolific illustrators and acclaimed portrait painters, Louis was deeply proud of his many historical paintings, citing the influence of Howard Pyle and Norman Rockwell, who he met through the Society of Illustrators, with much affection for Hokusai and Picasso.
As a southern born artist, he was deeply moved by the development of American jazz, and knew and painted many of the inventors and pioneers of this cultural art form, which led to his love of American history.
After a painting trip to the Far East for the Air Force Historical Foundation, he decided to travel through Europe. With his love for all people around the world, and his talent for recording them, he was commisioned to illustrate books and articles for the National Geographic Society.
Then, as the spirit of American history was reawakened in the United States, many American illustrators moved west to become western realist painters. However, although Glanzman had been there often, he remained behind to paint western scenes from afar, perhaps most notably in a series of paintings for Bantam, for Louis L’Amour’s famous western stories. For Glanzman, all of the United States was historical.
He was commissioned to paint the Civil War for Life magazine, National Geographic Society and the Department of the Interior in the 1960s, a time when he was also actively involved in the unfolding history of the ”American Cultural Revolution” and painted over 80 covers for Time magazine, work which further enhanced his career as a portrait painter. Most prominent were presidents, elections of presidents, and the historic landing on the moon of Neil Armstrong.
History by now had become his passion. More books and articles for National Geographic on American Independence followed, and a number of paintings commissioned by the Parks Department were executed for several museums around the United States.
Two more bi-centennial covers for Time magazine, one of George Washington, and one of Thomas Jefferson finally culminated in the painting of the ‘Signing of the Constitution’, commissioned by the Daughters of the American Revolution, installed in Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
He also created work inspired by the Bible, including a 13 portrait series of the Women of the New Testament, which became the basis for a book of spiritual reflections, Soul Sisters, Women in the Scripture Speak to Women Today, written by Edwina Gately, and Soul Brothers, Men in the Bible Speak to Men Today, written by Richard Rohr and published by Orbis Books.
One of his final projects, commissioned by the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission, was a collection of vignettes called “Images of the American Revolution: The New Jersey Shore and Pinelands,” a series of acrylic illustrations that depict historical scenes from Revolutionary War battles that were fought along the shore and in the Pinelands, many of which have been lost to memory, art now on display at the restored historic site, the Cedar Bridge Tavern.
Glanzman was apparently chosen for the project because his pictures “brought words and stories to life in a way that is both evocative and visually stunning”. And I’m not going to argue.
With thanks to Ernesto Guevara for setting me out on researching this item