When Max Ginsburg entered the art world in the 1960's, he was working in direct opposition to the period's minimalism and rejection of representational art. Ginsburg's fine art reflected and represented his immediate environment: cart vendors, subway riders, street basketball and generally the people of New York, depicting them with unflinching clarity and dignity. He approached this subject sympathetically if unromantically, with his primary motivation being visual truth rather than idealization.
By 1980 the art world still continued to embrace modern “ism’s” such as, conceptual art. As a result, Ginsburg turned towards commercial illustration to earn a better living. He soon found the same empathy that so frankly depicted his fine art's populist realities could also very deftly fashion populist fantasies, his canvases of subway commuters gave way to images of headstrong women peering out onto wind swept prairies.
Ginsburg quickly discovered he had a propensity for the genre. His work went on to grace the covers of over 800 titles--far a field in their variety---ranging from John Knowles,” A Separate Peace”, to Pamela Pacotti's, “Winds of Desire”. His romance illustrations appealed to readers' wishes for exploration or escape: his buxom women were determined and intoxicating, their men handsome and strapping, the settings vast and promising of adventure. When working with revered authors like Mildred Taylor, his empathy and skill combined to produce tender depictions of friendship or family ties in the face of gross social injustice and random tragedy.
Sadly, the work's non-narrative qualities--the subtle tonal shifts, the exacting brushwork and the mastery of color--are, for the most part, lost when viewing reproductions, in which the publisher's premium on narrative and shelf impact is disappointedly apparent. In person, the work's technical finesse is seductive. Ginsburg delineates form with a few well placed strokes of color, a technique that, while hard to master, yields delightfully suggestive results.
Ginsburg's artistic skill placed him in high demand, thus he enjoyed a successful twenty-four year career in illustration, only retiring from the field in 2004 to concentrate again on his fine art. His list of achievements in the field is impressive: Gold Medals from the Society of Illustrators, the Romance Writers of America "Art Emis " Award, the highly acclaimed “Christopher Award”, the Art Directors Club “Merit Award”, The Society Of Newspaper Design’s “New York Times Cover Award” and a one man retrospective at the Franklin Mint. Clients included the New York Times, New York Magazine, Fortune Magazine, Avon, Penguin Putnam, Harlequin, Bantam, Dell, Crown, Pocket Books, Berkley, Leisure, Dial, Puffin and Warner Publications. In addition, Ginsburg is featured in Walt Reed's preeminent reference volume, “The Illustrator in America”. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the New Britain Museum in Connecticut and the Society of Illustrators.
Max Ginsburg lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and works at his studio in Long Island City in New York City.