As someone who can fairly be called a “card guy,” I’ve always understood that the principal attraction for me was the images of the players, and the colorful little pasteboards seemed to convey that with an elegance and simplicity that was vastly better than the grainy black-and-white images in the newspapers and pulp magazines.
Which is not to say I was less than enthusiastic about black-and-white. It was just that the brightly colored cards seemed to come alive through the vivid hues that adorned – and occasionally overwhelmed – those issues from the 1950s and 1960s. How could mere black-and-white ever rival that kind of power?
Now we know. Nathalie Rattner, a Canadian artist, ballet dancer, television and film performer, and just generally a Renaissance woman extraordinaire, creates pencil and charcoal drawings of legendary baseball figures that defy the imagination and challenge the eye to tell navigate the murky shallows between photography and art.
Take my word for it, the image shown here is a drawing. It would be stunning art if it were a photograph; it’s just that much more impressive that it’s a drawing.
I was intrigued by much of her story, not the least of which was a realization that she came to this particular incarnation of creating these remarkable drawings of baseball greats only recently. Anybody who can do that should have decades of experience at it; she’s only been back at the easel actively for a few years, and the baseball emphasis for less than that.
I’ll have more on this fascinating tale in my regular column in Sports Collectors Digest, along with a plan to put one of her drawings on the cover and a bunch of other inside. I’ll just to have to go to great pains to make it clear what the readers will be looking at.
With all of that assistance, I've shown a pencil drawing here and a photograph. I'll let you decide which is which.