Behind the Scenes at CBS with Robert Weaver

This weekend would have been expressionistic artist Robert Weaver‘s 90th birthday.  In honor of this occasion, Modern Graphic History Library presents sketches which Weaver drew 55 years ago for the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS).


CBS Television Network released annual promotional calendars entitled “A Television Notebook.”  Each week of the year would feature an illustration or photograph.  Weaver drew for the 1960 calendar, featuring black and white sketches of behind-the-scenes production work.

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sketch for June 6-12, 1960

During his visit at CBS, Weaver saw the production of television shows, advertisements, and on-location football coverage.  He captured the details of all aspects of production and added handwritten captions to the bottom of each sketch.

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sketch for January 11-17, 1960

Many of the calendar’s sketches focus on a production of a western, including the actors, set design, and costuming.

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sketch for September 26-  October 2, 1960

Weaver was a pioneer of visual journalism.  He believed the role of the illustrator should be an active one, and that illustrators had a journalistic responsibility.  Weaver wanted his artwork to not only report information but to also allow others to experience it.

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sketch for April 4-10, 1960

Weaver drew locations and situations as he saw them.  If a piece of equipment was in front of a person’s face, he illustrated the scene “as-is” and did not try to rearrange subjects or objects for an idealized version.

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sketch for August 8-14, 1960

Weaver was influenced by the work of film directors Orson Wells, Roberto Rossellini, and Victorio De Sica, who showed there was drama in everyday, ordinary moment

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sketch for October 31 – November 6, 1960

CBS produced these artwork-filled promotional calendars throughout the 1950s and 1960s.  The 1970 calendar featured black and white photography.

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sketch for October 3-9, 1960

Other artists featured in CBS calendars include :

  • 1955 — René Bouché
  • 1958 — Carl Erickson
  • 1963 — Tomi Ungerer
  • 1969 — Daniel Schwartz

Examples of these artists’ art can be found in the Walt Reed Illustration Archive.

All of Robert Weaver’s calendar images are part of the Robert Weaver Collection.


Information about Weaver and the promotional calendars came from:

A Television Notebook By Robert Weaver. 5b4 Blogspot, November 2, 2008.

AIGA Design Archives

Robert Weaver. Graphic Witness, n.d.

About the author

Andrea Degener is the Visual Materials Processing Archivist in the department of Special Collections at Washington University Libraries.