A rare surviving cover painting for the long running Motor magazine title which evolved alongside the car industry from the very early years of automobilia through the machine age of progress and invention. Robinson executed these light-hearted Americana views for this Hearst title from the 1920s through the 1950s, this work appeared as the cover for the September 1930 issue. Here, a hard working garage hand is shown using a different sort of elbow grease to pry loose a coin from a tightwad couple by explaining the workings of “Ellbo – A Super Automotive Polish”.
Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Robert B. Robinson spent most of his life on the East Coast as a magazine illustrator. He studied first at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and from 1909 to 1912 with the famous illustrator, Howard Pyle. In 1912 he visited Paris, which was the capital of the art world at that time. There he would have been exposed to avant garde art not seen at that time in the United States. Cubism, Fauvism, Post Impressionism, Expressionism and other modern movements were not exhibited in America until the Armory Show in 1913. But he retained his preference for realist art.
He first set up his own studio in Wilkes-Barre and, later, established one in New York to be closer to the publishing companies. Robinson specialized in magazine covers, working for Motor Magazine, American Druggist, Saturday Evening Post, Liberty, and Redbook.
Robert Robinson, created hundreds of covers for the Hearst Corporation and their Motor Magazine monthly publication from 1926 to 1952. Targeted at the service station and garage trade, Robinson’s covers featured all types of motoring maladies experienced by everyone from dowdy matrons to pouty pin-ups, bawdy mechanics to rowdy motorcyclists, and cute kids emulating their parents’ problems. Escaping the mechanical malaise was also a reoccurring theme in the artist’s work.
With the onset of World War II many of the covers showed a decidedly patriotic air as America mobilized its efforts. From the home front to the battle front, Robinson found relevance to his market in the activities of families and soldiers alike.