Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Sketchy Past reviewed in the New York Times Book Review!

Below is a review of my book, A Sketchy Past, The Art of Peter de Seve, written by Steven Heller, the former art editor of The New York Times Book Review and highly prolific author and editor of countless books on illustration, graphic design and popular culture.

Peter de Sève is much better known than kamishibai artists [a reference from the first section of the article, not shown here] , but he does the same job of telling stories. His numerous covers for The New Yorker tell ironic tales of the city. “Panhandler,” a fanciful drawing of the mythical half man, half goat Pan playing his proverbial pipes on a New York street corner, is as farcical as it is evocative of the real talents who busk for loose change. De Sève’s “Through the Wringer,” showing a flabby naked man walking through an airport metal detector (ignored by all the passers- by), captures the way many people actually feel when going through the ordeal. These and many more illustrations are collected in a gorgeously designed coffee-table book, A SKETCHY PAST: The Art of Peter de Sève (Akileos, $54.95).
The sketches implied in the title are probably the best part. De Sève’s finished pieces are very fluid and impressionistic while totally representational, with hints of caricature at every turn. But his looser sketches are the real masterpieces of visual erudition. He depicts character and expression so completely with only a few well-composed lines and shades. And among the most delightful, in a book that will doubtless serve as a textbook for today’s aspiring artists, are production sketches for the animated “Ice Age” films, for which he designed the amazing characters (under the supervision of the director Chris Wedge, who wrote the book’s foreword). Although de Sève is certainly a people person, drawingwise, I haven’t seen such a master with animals since John James Audubon, if Audubon had done caricatures of prehistoric creatures, that is.


  1. the audubon of caricatures....thats a great comparison, i may just have to purchase this one!

  2. Nice write up...but I didn't need Steven Heller to tell me it's a great book ;)

    Pre-ordered when it became available and can't wait for it to arrive at my doorstep!!!

  3. I know you must be used to these kind of comments, but I'll say it're a genius! your art is fantastic! Congratulations for you work and for the new website and blog! Greetings from Mexico!

  4. Greats works!!



  5. Just got my copy from Stuart Ng books! It's really an amazing collection. The exclusive signed bookplate was a nice touch.

  6. I want this book. Just came across your work, hopefully I can get this one for xmas :)

  7. And now, let's launch another big fan domino's effect : Today is the 12th of, Happy Birthday Peter !

  8. Hi, i love your art, especially your drawings of animals. Can you draw a crocodile for me? :D

  9. Wonderful book, a holy grail of inspiration...:)

  10. Congratulations, Peter! We're so proud of you and pleased you could debut your and Randall's fabulous book, The Dutchess of Whimsy at the Norman Rockwell Museum. Steven hit the sweet spot in his review of your book, A Sketchy Past.


    Laurie Norton Moffatt
    Norman Rockwell Museum

  11. Just had your book for christmas , it's really great,

    thanks and merry christmas, joyeux noel ;-) as we say in france

  12. You made my Christmas better. I received your book (it was only available here in French, but no matter as the pictures say it all) and Ice Age The Meltdown was on t.v. Thank you and hope you're still enjoying the holidays.

  13. hi man,i did´t know you had a blog,wonderfull as always,big hugs!!

  14. Hello Peter!

    I ordered A Sketchy Past for my husband as his big Christmas gift. When I saw that it wouldn't be delivered until January, I ordered The Duchess of Whimsy so I could put something awesome under the tree!

    You've been a huge inspiration to my husband, who is stepping out of his responsible daddy comfort zone to finally follow his dream to make a career from his artwork. Tough decision to make for a young father - but I won't let him back down! It makes me furious, somehow, when talented people don't do that thing they were so obviously made to do. I appreciate your success, because you prove that it's wise to go after it! You are a source of inspiration for us both.


    Wife of an artist.


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