A lot of knowledge, we have found, is a reassuring thing, and as a rule we rely on the expertise of our writers, editors, photographers and artists to assure a high level of editorial credibility. But once in a great while—as in the case of Artist Seymour Chwast—no knowledge is even better. That's why we asked Chwast, who had never seen a golf tournament before, to attend the Masters in Augusta last year and to sketch—through the eye of an uninitiated observer—his impressions of the course, players and patrons of America's most distinguished tournament. What we got was exactly what we had hoped for: a quality of freshness and insight that might well have eluded a more knowledgeable and golf-wise illustrator. Chwast's drawings accompany Bil Gilbert's article, The Other Side of Paradise, beginning on page 40.
But if Seymour Chwast was short in the golfing department, he is long in the people category. As a lifelong New Yorker, he has walked the city's avenues and observed its inhabitants with an original eye and a talented pen. He carried on the tradition of creative people-watching among the flowering azaleas and dogwood of Augusta last April. His first exposure to the game was summed up best in the remark he made on the 1st tee, after one pro had rapped a 250-yard drive to within a soft eight-iron of the green. "That," Chwast remarked after a moment, "looks too easy."
The center of Chwast's artistic universe for the last six years has been the Push Pin Studios in Manhattan, an institution he helped create and one that has sent its artistic waves rolling as far as the Louvre in Paris, where the studio was honored with a two-month retrospective exhibit last year. Several of Chwast's posters are now part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and his illustrations turn up almost monthly in the pages of one or more national magazines. His wife Jacqueline helps maintain the creative ambience around the Chwast household by writing and illustrating children's books.
"The Augusta assignment was certainly something different for me," Chwast admits now. "You can hardly fail to be impressed by the smooth way the event is run—its style and organization—and that helped get me over any early uncertainty I had."
And so he tramped the fairways and forests of Augusta National with his 35-mm. camera and shot several dozen rolls of film from which he later sketched the scenes and insights that decorate our pages this week. He got, in addition to a lot of transparencies and some excellent drawings, one of the more vivid sunburns to come out of eastern Georgia last April.
"On the whole, I found it rather fun," he says today. "The people were fascinating, and they were awfully good subjects."
Good subjects or not, Chwast's skill makes it look too easy.