Arguably the high point of Searle's career was during the 50s & 60s when his style found a comfortable median between overtly cartoony & more realistic reportage such as the REFUGEE drawings. He had numerous commisions from American HOLIDAY magazine & was sent all over the world to capture the exotic & esoteric in his inimatable style. From German brothels to the Alaskan wilderness the drawings he produced for HOLIDAY are amongst his finest.
Excerpt from an interview with Frank Zachary, picture editor of HOLIDAY Magazine during the fifties:
"While photography was the back bone of Holiday, illustration was its soul. Zachary was underwhelmed by the prevailing sentimental illustrative approach found in most American magazines, and eyed Europe, specifically England and France, for the surrealistic comic vision he was looking for. "Frank brought sophisticated illustration to American magazines," recalls Sam Antupit. "Other art directors brought powerful or clever images, but Frank bought an unprecedented sophistication. Of course it came from Europe since in the early Fifties there weren't too many Americans practicing sophisticated pen work . . ."
". . . Holiday artists like Ronald Searle, Andre François, Roland Topor, Folon, Tomi Ungerer, Comenico Gnoli and Edward Gorey (one of the few native Americans practicing out of the mainstream) were given great latitude to develop their own stories and portfolios. Zachary avoided using the reigning stars because "that would be too easy," but chose to discover his own new galaxy. In most cases the artists actually transformed themselves in this environment. "I got people like Ronald Searle," remembers Zachary, "to do a feature on something like the London hotel scene. The first result was pretty straightforward, so I asked him to satirize it or just make it funny, and almost overnight, he changed his style, becoming the Searle that you and I know today." Searle concurs: "Frank gave me a lot of firsts. From around 1959 to 1969, he gave me all the space one could dream of, the chance to fill it with color, the freedom to travel and what proved to be the last of the great reportages. Off to Alaska! Cover all of Canada! Bring me ten pages on the dirty bits of Hamburg! No expense spared. The years of travel for Frank gave me experiences that cannot be bought. There was always one problem: he always called me 'Arnold' instead of Ronald. But then, he probably always called Arnold Newman 'Ronald,' so it balanced out."
Copyright 1991 by The American Institute of Graphic Arts.
The magazine even published a letter of complaint from illustrator John Maass in April 1957.
'HOLIDAY'S Art Director received the following from the artist who illustrated Punial's First American in the February issue:
Dear Mr Zacharie:
I don't know who is to blame at Curtiss. Is it Mr Patric? Mr Beimiller? ANyway, my name is misspelled in the February issue of HOLIDAY.
Mr. M proved his point. Messrs. Zachary, Patrick and Biemiller of HOLIDAY, Curtis Publishing Company, will never forget it. - Ed.'
SIGNED, INSCRIBED 'PALM SPRINGS' AND DATED 1963 PEN INK AND WATERCOLOUR 19 X 14 INCHES
ILLUSTRATED: HOLIDAY, NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 1965
HOLIDAY Magazine, February 1965
HOLIDAY MAGAZINE, APRIL 1962, FEATURE ON FLORIDA PEN AND INK 14 X 10 INCHES
Hawaii:Hotel Street, Honolulu HOLIDAY Magazine December 1965
Hawaii: Oahu HOLIDAY Magazine December 1965
Morocco: Family, Casablanca HOLIDAY Magazine September 1966
Germany: Black Forest HOLIDAY Magazine October 1964
'Welcome to the Reeperbahn', 1967 Pen & Wash
HOLIDAY Magazine January 1968
Canada: Hudson's Bay HOLIDAY Magazine April 1964.
This would later lead to a commission from The Hudson's Bay Company to illustrate their calender, the drawings for which were subsequently published in the book THE GREAT FUR OPERA, 1970.
HOLIDAY Magazine, March 1964
Frank Zachary would later go on to have a brief tenure as Art Director of TRAVEL & LEISURE Magazine & would again commision travel sketches from Searle.
TRAVEL & LEISURE autumn 1971 Original stolen New York.
'Shrine', 1975 Pen & Watercolour
Travel & Leisure Magazine, New York August 1975
'Crete', 1965 Pen & Watercolour
Venture Magazine, New York April 1966
SIGNED, INSCRIBED WITH TITLE AND DATED 1989 PEN INK AND WATERCOLOUR WITH CRAYON 15 X 15 1/2 INCHES
ILLUSTRATED: CONDE NAST TRAVEL MAGAZINE, APRIL 1990, 'LONDON' BY DAVID MAMET
Holiday magazine April 1961