Paul Rader (1906-1986)
forgotten today by the art world in general, but still treasured
by a die-hard band of vintage paperback collectors, the American
artist Isaac Paul Rader was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1906.
Only his mother called him Izzy. To every one else he was Isaac,
or Iz, or Paul. Pauls father was a master carpenter, a woodworker
who moved from town to town depending on where the work was. The
Raders moved to Mt. Vernon NY, then to New Rochelle NY, then to
Toledo Ohio. It was in Toledo that young Paul became an artist.
Very early on he showed a gift for realistic portraiture, and
at age 16 he became one of the youngest artists in America to
have an Art Museum exhibit of his paintings. The Toledo Museum
of Art, a few blocks from the Rader home, was his first showcase.
He also had paintings chosen for museum Art Society shows in 1920,
1921, 1922, 1923, 1924 and 1930. One of the paintings cataloged,
The Carpenter (also known as Working),
a portrait of the artists father, won first prize at the
1921 Art Show. Sadly for us, nobody at the Toledo Art Museum had
the foresight to purchase any of the paintings, and today there
are no Raders in their collection.
Raders father was called to Detroit to work for the Ford
Motor Company, Paul stayed in Toledo and lived with his sister.
(You may wonder why a woodworker was hired by an automaker; the
family story has it that he worked on wood paneling for the Ford
Woody station wagons.) Paul later moved to Detroit
and set up a studio in his parents attic. He may have attended
classes at Wayne State University, but he did not graduate. He
no longer had any time for college; he was getting work. Rader
became a successful portrait painter in Detroit, painting many
well-to-do local residents including judges and lawyers. Supposedly
there once were Rader portraits hanging in the Michigan State
Capitol building, but if that is true they are no longer there.
A state employee was kind enough to check their listings, and
although there are no Raders in the Capitol he did find Paul Raders
name on a list of Michigan artists who have portraits on display
around the state. Rader paintings of judges hang (or at one time
hung) in various law libraries and law offices in the Detroit
TRUE DETECTIVE OCT 1961 COVER BY PAUL RADER
studying painting in Europe for a year, Paul Rader was married
in Detroit in 1931. He was 25. His wife was from a Philadelphia
family, and they moved to Philadelphia, where Paul set up his
next studio and found work. When they were divorced in 1940, Paul
moved to New York City.
Paul met and married his wife Edith in Manhattan in 1942, during
what Edith calls the whirlwind era of early WWII.
He did Citizens Prep welding work until the war ended in
1945. After the war Rader went back to work as a full time artist,
painting portraits but now getting more and more commercial work
as an illustrator. Paul and Edith had their daughter Elaine to
support, and Rader must have found the magazine work more lucrative
than his large canvases. He did advertisements for Sharp &
Doane Drugs, for General Electric kitchens, for Lovable Bras.
His illustrations for such magazines as REDBOOK and FAMILY CIRCLE
began appearing around 1950. He did a one-year series on children
for REDBOOK, painting from photographs he received permission
to take at a local nursery school.
He could accomplish anything he tried with his hands,
Edith Rader told me. He was extremely adept with his hands,
a mechanical genius. I believe he inherited that trait from his
father. Paul designed furniture and his photography appeared in
HIGH FIDELITY Magazine. Even late in his life he could draw a
straight line on a wall, never needed a ruler.
Raders agency for the early ads was Lawrence Studios. The
models he used were always from agencies like Ford. One of them
was Janice Cooper, who met her future husband Guy Williams on
modeling assignments like the ones they did for Paul Rader. Edith
remembers an ad where Janice and Guy were supposed to be a sunny
summer couple in a convertible. It was photographed in a freezing
garage in the New York winter. The two couples became friends
and Edith was sorry when Guy and Janice moved to California, where
Guy wanted to give up his successful modeling career to try acting.
Guy did all right for himself as an actor in Hollywood, playing
ZORRO and starring in LOST IN SPACE.
Raders decision to change agents and go with the Balcourt
Art Service in 1957 is a turning point in his New York career.
After 1958 there is a much greater preponderance of Rader material
suddenly available, including many illustrations for mens
magazines like SWANK and BACHELOR, and paperback covers for Gold
Medal, Ace, Pyramid, Berkley and Midwood.
from his background in advertising and illustration, Rader tried
to make his covers fashionable. But Midwood did not want their
covers to be fashionable, just eye-catching and beautiful. Balcourt
described the kinds of covers he supplied by genres, like Westerns
or science fiction or sexy, and Rader
quickly became one of the greatest of the sexy cover
artists of that era. He had the ability to create a desirable
woman on canvas, Edith Rader said. And it was this ability
that led to his success at Midwood. Raders work was not
like the gloomy or abstract covers painted by some of his contemporaries.
His idols were Petty and Vargas. Paul loved George Pettys
formula for turning each woman he painted beautiful. But Pettys
girls were sometimes anatomically impossible, if those legs were
real they would be 9 feet tall. Paul was more of a realist.
quick, realistic take on such fantasy subjects as dreamy blondes
and sultry redheads distinguishes him from the pack. Many of the
books Rader did covers for are collected today not for the book
at all but only for the cover. His sexy Midwoods are each little
tiny pocketsize works of art. Rader continued to turn out Midwood
covers throughout the sixties, elevating the paperback cover to
classic pin-up status.
wife Edith was the administrative secretary to the Director of
Surgery at St. Lukes Hospital in New York City. When Paul
Rader collapsed in 1967, they thought it was a heart attack and
rushed him to St. Lukes, where Ediths bosses gave
him the best of care. When they operated on him, they found nothing
wrong with his heart. His illness was a stomach tumor and he recuperated
slowly, not working for a year. He gradually went back to work,
but never again at his earlier pace. He did a few last covers
for Midwood, and recycled some of his Midwood covers for Bee-line.
He retired in 1970, moved to Monroe NY, and never looked back,
never did another paperback. He enjoyed working at a more leisurely
pace at his studio there, painting portraits and teaching Adult
Education classes. When Edith retired, they decided to move to
Florida in 1984 to be closer to their daughter. Paul Rader spent
his last two years in Ocala, where he died in 1986. He was 79,
just shy of his 80th birthday.
TOLEDO BLADE, JUNE 26, 1986
heartfelt thanks go out to Robert W. Rutherford, Robert Speray,
Lance Casebeer, Chris Eckhoff, Mark Goodman, Ron Blum, Andrew
Jensen, Tom Lesser, Rose Idlet, RC & Elwanda Holland, Tony
Jacobs, Jaye Zimet, Julie Ellis, Edward Balcourt, Gil Fox, Donald
E. Westlake, Pandoras Books, Rachel Parker-Stephen, Joy
Thomas, Leslie K. Swigart, Michael Ryan at the Toledo Museum of
Art, Rudy Nappi, Clem Micarelli, Victor Olson, and Robert Maguire.
This catalog could never have happened without information from
Edith Rader and Lauren Turner.
Catalogue of The Temporary Exhibitions of November &
December 1922 at the Toledo Museum of Art:
Isaac Rader, the youthful winner of the first prize in the Toledo
Federation of Art Societies Exhibition held at the Museum in 1921,
is but sixteen years of age and his received all of his art education
is, in a way, a protégé of the Museum in that some
six years ago
became interested in the study of art through his visits to the
Museum and has worked in many of the drawing and design classes
offered since that time. His work shows great talent, he has made
rapid progress and shows great promise for the future.
family and neighbors act as models for many of his paintings,
and The Carpenter, for which he received the Libbey Prize in 1921,
was posed by his father. This picture is number 184 in the catalog.
BY ISAAC RADER
THE APPLE TREE
172. THE RED BARN
173. A SKETCH
176. STILL LIFE
177. STILL LIFE
178. A STUDY
180. STUDY - HEAD
181. STUDY HEAD
182. FISHERMANS COTTAGE
183. THE NIGHT WATCHMAN
184. THE CARPENTER
187. PREPARING DINNER
188. AT THIRTEEN
189. SAD NEWS
The photographs shown here courtesy of Edith Rader are of Paul
Rader at his studio in Monroe in the 1970s. The painting
he was working on was a commission. It portrays Christ on the
cross as a group of modern-day city dwellers walk by in ignorance.
One young mother has turned to look back at Him. Edith believes
the painting is now at a Catholic Church in Newburgh NY.