The Artists

The newsprint and magazine advertisements collected here were primarily drawn by Arthur Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman. Some of their Buick / GM illustrations appeared in ads slightly reworked for versions in Canadian publications including Maclean’s and the Canadian edition of Time magazine. Buick continued their two series of ads, one in black-and-white in The New Yorker, and color ads in Sunday newspaper supplements including The American Weekly, Parade and This Week. These Sunday ads appeared nowhere else and richen the sweep of the advertising campaign.

Collaborating primarily on Mercury ads until 1953, it wasn't until Fitz received “an offer he couldn't refuse” to work exclusively for Buick. Bringing Van along continued what became a 24-year partnership and lifelong friendship. Their work was every bit as dramatic, colorful and zoomy as any automotive art in their day, shown here in my 1956 collection, which was part of their run that began for Buick in 1954 through 1957.

Fitz and Van”, as they would come to be known, carried on their artistry landing another exclusive contract to produce advertising art for Pontiac, from 1959 until 1971. Fitz primarily drew the cars, and it was Van who filled in the people and the backgrounds. Van, being a former Disney illustrator, created the exotic backdrops and a spectrum of weather conditions that Fitzpatrick would balance out in the reflective surfaces of the car. Working together, the two not only created visually appealing advertisements for GM, but visual stories that promoted the brand further.

You can learn more about Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman at The photo shows VAN KAUFMAN (LEFT), JOHN DELOREAN (CENTER), ART FITPATRICK (RIGHT) circa 1968 holding a 1969 Pontiac GTO sketch, which ultimately becomes the advert shown below their photo.

Art Fitzpatrick

Began his career designing cars. At 20, he designed the Darrin Packard 4-door convertible and hard top sedans, and at 22 was a consulting designer to General Electric. After World War II service as a Naval Officer, he turned to advertising design and illustration, beginning with 8 years of Mercury, including 4 years of Lincoln ads. Before GM obtained his exclusive services (20 years worth), he did ads for Nash, Plymouth, Chrysler, Kaiser and Studebaker. During these years, he also did art, graphic and product design for other Fortune 500 clients.

Van Kaufman

Went from art school to Walt Disney Studios, where he became a key animator and director. He served in the Army Air Force in the war, producing and directing training films. Back to Disney, he then left to travel and live in Europe for a while, and then to New York and advertising and editorial art. In 1951 Fitz, having admired Van's art for an Italian Line campaign, suggested him for the backgrounds on the Mercury ads. That began a 24 year collaboration and a 43 year friendship that lasted until Van's death in 1995.