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The art of uk motoring artists

Helck Clarence Peter

Year working: 1893 – 1988

It may come as a surprise to see Peter Helck’s details listed in this profile of UK working artists. Without doubt Peter Helck was the foremost American motoring and racing artist. However Peter Helck lived and worked in the UK on at least two occasions. The first visit was in late 1919 or early 1920 when he was working with Frank Brangwyn on a project for Fisk Tyres. Frank Brangwyn was one of the foremost UK artists of his time with far ranging talents from landscapes to portraits and murals often with an architectural theme and an outstanding use of colour. These strengths were also characterise the work of Peter Helck. After this initial visit he spent about a year in Spain, Morocco, Algiers, and Italy before returning to London. By March 1921 we start to see his work appearing in the UK magazine The Motor Owner for which he completed front cover designs. This period was relatively short as by August 1921 we see a front cover signed Helck/New York/1921. He returned to the UK again in 1923 to 1924 when he was again working for The Motor Owner as well as The Autocar. For The Autocar besides small sketches Peter Helck also completed some superb front cover artwork. He was a visitor to Brooklands track and The Autocar published several of his drawings of the paddock and personalities. This is in addition to the painting of a paddock scene that was completed in 1920 for the Motor Owner. Peter Helck on his return to the USA was to make his name with many paintings of motor racing plus a very full portfolio of associated advertising work. Particularly well known is his work for the oil companies and Esquire magazine. Two books of his work were published together with many prints of his paintings plus etchings and a few bronzes.

Further reference

Great Auto Races by Peter Helck published by Abrams 1975 Checkered Flag by Peter Helck published by Scribner/ Castle 1961 Seventy-Five Years with Palette, Paintbrush and Wheels by Peter Helck published in The Bulb Horn magazine July August 1966 Peter Helck by Ken Browning published in Autographics magazine 1977 Peter Helck by Keith Marvin published in Automobile Quarterly Volume 27 #1 1989 Peter Helck American Master by Gary Doyle published in AFAS Journal #33 2007

http://www.peterhelck.com

Brooklands paddock scene painted for The Motor Owner 1920. Image courtesy of Tom Brierley

1933 TT with MGs at Dundonald an actual gouache painting

Motor Owner front cover June 1920

Motor Owner front cover July 1920

Motor Owner front cover October 1920

Motor Owner front cover May 1921

Packard advertisement in Motor Owner June 1920

Goodrich advertisement in Motor Owner July 1920

Packard advertisement in Motor Owner September 1920

Packard advertisement in Motor Owner March 1921

Original draft for General Motors advert in the Motor Owner Magazine

Original draft for General Motors advert in the Motor Owner

Autocar magazine front cover artwork

Autocar magazine front cover artwork December 1923

Autocar magazine front cover artwork March 1924

Helck signature dated 1920 in an English autograph book