Atherton is credited as a painter and illustrator whose twin careers
came good together. But on closer inspection much of the love of atmospheric
detail and firm drawing and composition inform both those works shown
in art galleries and those for press and magazines. He was born in Brainerd,
Minnesota, settled in California after 1919 and started his training
at the California School of Fine Arts. In 1929 he moved to New York.
In his essay on Surrealism and American Art (Rutgers
Univ.Art Gallery exhib.catal. 1977 p.38) Jeffrey Wechsler claims Atherton
as a Magic Realist - pinned to the award of a prize to Atherton's painting
The Black Horse in the Artists for Victory Competition.
The painting was also influential in that it was purchased by the Museum
of Modern Art in New York.
Atherton did many covers for the Saturday Evening Post
and also, most effectively, for FORTUNE magazine where
his images chimed well with the business/heritage dynamic in this business
magazine. His work for DOLE shows him capable of designing
still life with surprising gravitas.
Here is a selection from the great visual range of Atherton's work.
advert for Westinghouse Electrical Equipment (Elevators) Dec. 1948
advert for DOW Chemicals, May 1950 21 x 27cms
Gulfpride Motor Oil , August 1949 18 x24cms.
advert for National City Bank of New York, May 1952 20 x 26cms.
advert for Container Corporation of America (packaging materials) October
1947 27 x 32cms and part of a series commissioning regional artists
to produce characteristic images for their State or for a basic fundamental
advert for DOLE fruit company