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ARTISTS / Buck, Gene

American 1884 (or '85) - 1957

 Gene Buck was born August 8, 1884 (or 1885) in Detroit, Michigan. He was as nearly well known as a musician as he was for his cover art contributions. He had formal training at the Detroit Art Academy, focusing on Art Nouveau. Buck was soon employed by the Jerome Remick company in New York as a staff illustrator where he reportedly produced over 5000 covers, although this includes arranging photographic as well as text-based covers. Evolving from his initial training he became adept at Art Deco even before it had recognized as an independent style. The bulk of his illustrations range from 1904 to 1914, a time when he started experiencing severe vision problems.
     Starting in 1910 Buck tried his hand at composing. Many of his earliest songs as a lyricist to the music of Dave Stamper appear on a series of Edison Diamond Discs from the 1910s. Gene was quite active in the New York music scene and mingled with stars of stage and screen. He also wrote with composers Victor Herbert and Rudolph Friml. He spent many years in the employ of Flo Ziegfeld contributing both writing and set design for the famous Ziegfeld Follies. His 1917 draft registration shows him as a playwright with Ziegfeld working at the New Amsterdam Thetaer. Buck continued composing into the 1920s and was the President of ASCAP (American Society of Composers and Publishers) from 1924 to 1941. During this time he lived in Nassau, New York. The 1930 census shows him and his wife Helen (Faulkner) with two sons born around 1922 and 1924, and he was listed as a theatrical producer. Also in the house were his younger brother George, and Helen's two sisters. Gene Buck died on the west coast in 1957.
     Notable in Buck's style is the use of minimal color palettes, often leaving many elements of the cover clear or showing a single color that would define the cover. The people were consistently drawn with succinct expressions, and the artistic elements when they appeared were well-defined although simply colored and logically patterned. Many of his covers do not bear his signature, but his distinct lettering technique on the Remick issues certainly help give them away.



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