Whether you know it or not, you've admired the work of Leo Dillon and his wife Diane, whose artworks adorned many of science fiction and fantasy's most famous books. Leo Dillon, who died of cancer the other day, was the first African American artist to win a Caldecott Medal for children's book illustration — and then won it a second year in a row.
The New York Times obituary for Dillon is a must-read. Here's a selection:
The Dillons' work was characterized by stylistic diversity, with influences ranging over African folk art, Japanese woodcuts, old-master paintings and medieval illumination.
It was also noteworthy for the diversity of the people it portrayed. This was especially striking in the 1970s, when the Dillons began illustrating for children: until then, the smiling faces portrayed in picture books had been overwhelmingly white.
Their emphasis on inclusion sprang from their experience as an interracial couple. As they often explained in interviews, after their son, Lee, was born in the 1960s, they surreptitiously colored the skin of characters in the picture books they bought him, recasting them as black, Hispanic and Asian.
A lot of amazing Dillon art has been reposted around the Web in the past few days. Here are some of our favorites. Check the links for way more:
via Muddy Colors
via File 770
via Wired Geek Mom