Donald Moss, Illustrator of Sports Art, Dies at 90

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Donald Moss, Illustrator of Sports Art, Dies at 90

Postby olywaguy » Sat May 29, 2010 7:57 pm

The art of Don Moss

Donald Moss, Illustrator of Sports Art, Dies at 90
Published: May 25, 2010

Donald Moss, a commercial illustrator who captured the action, spectacle and personalities of sports for posters, postage stamps and covers of Sports Illustrated, died on May 18 in Farmington, Conn. He was 90.

The cause was complications of a cerebral hemorrhage, his daughter, Margaret Moss Painter, said.

Mr. Moss began painting for Sports Illustrated in the mid-1950s and went on to produce Olympic logos and promotional material for the U.S. Open tennis tournament, the New York City Marathon and the Super Bowl. He also designed eight commemorative stamps, including ones with Olympic and tennis themes.

Mr. Moss’s paintings, which hang in many of America’s sports halls of fame, pull from Futurism, Surrealism, Pointillism and Pop Art, but with a playful stroke. His Ted Williams swings a bat, leaving a chromatic motion trail. He created a series of paintings of golf courses, one with a ball the size of a boulder, another as a trompe l’oeil homage to René Magritte.

“I have always been impressed by athletes who give everything to their sport,” Mr. Moss said in his biography for the Sport Artist of the Year award given to him in 1985 by the United States Sports Academy. “I admire their intensity, their ability to please others and to make a good living at the same time. I like to think that I do the same.”

Donald Francis Moss was born in Somerville, Mass., on Jan. 20, 1920, and raised in nearby Melrose. He received a scholarship to Vesper George Art School but left in 1940 to enlist in the Marines. Mr. Moss later enrolled in a design program at Pratt Institute on the G.I. Bill. He got work from a fellow soldier who had been an art director at Good Housekeeping magazine and later received assignments from Collier’s Weekly and Esquire.

He began working for Sports Illustrated a few months after its first issue, in 1954. It was a freelance relationship that lasted for more than 30 years, with assignments like painting the country’s finest golf courses and ski slopes. He produced more covers and editorial illustrations for the magazine than any other artist, said Anne Kent Rush of the American Sport Art Museum and Archives, who is writing and editing a book on sports art.

“Donald Moss was working on the cusp of the change from painting to the camera,” she said. “His art helped change the way we visualize sports scenes and players.”

Mr. Moss painted his last cover for Sports Illustrated in 1984 as photography came to dominate the pictorial side of the magazine. But he maintained that photos fell short of paintings in critical ways.

“Photos do not bring out the values, color, depth, length or height that an illustration can,” Mr. Moss told The New York Times in 1979. “And they do not glamorize the majestic mountain or the dramatic pitch of a downhill trail.”

Besides his daughter, Ms. Moss Painter, of Avon, Conn., he is survived by his wife, Virginia Hardesty Moss; a son, Donald Moss, of West Hartford, Conn.; another daughter, Elisabeth Moss, also of Farmington; and five grandchildren.


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