Art Fitzpatrick, one half of the team that created some of the most eye-catching advertising artwork for General Motors from 1959 to 1971, passed away this week in Carlsbad, Calif., at age 96.
More recently, Fitzpatrick drew two series of commemorative stamps for the U.S. Postal Service titled “America on the Move,” released in 2005 and 2008. The first series celebrated 1950s sporty cars, such as the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Thunderbird and Kaiser Darrin. The second set, “tailfins and chrome,” featured such cars as the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado, Chrysler 300C and Lincoln Premiere.
Working with his partner, Van Kaufman, Fitzpatrick drew pictures of Pontiac’s “wide track” performance cars that came to define the brand. During the run of “Fitz and Van,” as they came to be known, Pontiac ranked third in the industry in sales most years. Kaufman died in 1995.
Fitz and Van worked like this: Fitzpatrick drew the cars, often making them seem a little wider and a little lower than they already were, while Kaufman drew the scenery and people. Muscle cars, such as the GTO, were placed in exotic locales, giving them an upscale image. The work was so impressive that Pontiac’s general manager at the time, John DeLorean, banned the use of pictures and decreed that only Fitz and Van drawings could be used in Pontiac ads.