Tag: artists

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The mystique of Keleck

My first taste of any artwork associated with Keleck (aka Kelek), was at Boskone this year, where Andy Gelas brought my attention to two French paperback editions of Conan. These were Conan Le Guerrier, and Conan Le Cimmerian, in the Titres SF editions from the early 1980s. Needless to say, the eye-popping contrast in red and black, and the the purity of design in these covers hit me like a sucker-punch in a Philip Marlowe story.   Le Cimmerian has a pure movie-poster effect, with that smashing red background, and the bare skin of the figures has a smooth air-brushed look, while the tightly delineated designs on the metal are all perfectly highlighted. The first thing I noticed about Le Guerrier is the darkness of the figure, of the rich draperies, of the stairwell vanishing into shadow. The hair is certainly done the same way as Le Cimmerian: frizzy threads in direct highlight against the background. But in Le Guerrier, the eyes, the skin, the deliberate brushstrokes on the wall, and the marble steps; they have a very different aesthetic from the super-slick air-brushing of Le Cimmerian. What is going on here?

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Steele Savage - Adventures with the Heroes

A nice surprise at the Davis Square Goodwill!   An ex-library copy of Adventures With the Heroes (1954), illustrated by Steele Savage.   This is the companion volume to Adventures With the Giants (1950) that you can find nicely scanned over at Ragged Claws Network. In both volumes, you will find Steele Savage’s crisp rendering in pen and ink, with a beautiful depth and texture provided by two-color separations.    For example, the illustration for the chapter, Sigurd’s Horse (p45), shows a wonderful use of a single color — darkened with black hachure lines for the foreground figures, loosely rendered for the curving river, and lightly washed across the background for mountains. The painted cover (presumably done in watercolor) is a lovely composite of the major scenes found in the book, with a mild looking dragon lying slain at the feet of a diminutive hero, and with its tail wrapped across the pale green landscape.  This altogether dreamlike image reveals the mastery of an artist who deserves our attention all the more. The complete set is posted at yunchtime.tumblr.com  

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Robots! in Science Fiction Art

DBR Podcast 4 - Robots in Science Fiction Art. 20th Century Science Fiction Art: Artists and Techniques. Lex Berman, Frank Wu, & Brianna Spacekat Wu present an intergal

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Pulp Life: A Major Exhibition of Charles Binger Art

The amazing works of Charles Ashford Binger will be shown in the first major exhibition of his works in 45 years! “Charles Binger: A Pulp Life“ will open at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Hollywood, CA on January 7th and run through the end of the month. Binger’s interesting career spanned from movie posters and portraits, to ground-breaking science fiction covers in the 1950s, and hard-boiled detective pulps. His style has been characterized as utilizing “impeccable composition, rendered in a painterly style over roughened textures.” I would hasten to add that Binger was able to incorporate elements of cubism, realism, impressionism, and abstract expressionism into his works…often as not by combining them into a single canvas!

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Science Fiction Art of Charles Binger

Looking over some covers for Pennant Books and Bantam Books from the 1950s, I noticed several interesting and moody paintings with a signature that reminded me of Bayre Phillips. See for example Phillips signature on the left, and the signature of Charles Binger on the right. Although they both have a downward stroke in the middle, Phillips tends to have a rounder, upslanting B, and always ends with a curving capital E with an accent mark! Once I knew that that Binger was a unique painter, I gathered up the best images I could find, and there were some excellent ones! In addition the science fiction covers that follow (below the jump), there were quite a few in mystery, adventure, romance, western and the like…all of them with a soft, fluid style, using watercolors and oils, presumably, for some terrific effects. If I had to identify a hallmark style in these paintings, I would say that Binger likes to separate areas of the composition with color shapes that are smudged, that look like edges of torn rough-fiber paper softened with water. It’s a pity that I can’t find any biographical info on Binger in any of the usual reference books or on the internet. Hopefully, someone out there will contact me and fill in the life story of this fine artist.

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Carlos Ochagavia - Self Portrait (1981)

Just received a copy of _The New Visions, A Collection of Modern Science Fiction Art_ published in 1981. I was was surprised and delighted to find one of the 23 artists featured to be Carlos Ochagavia, and to see not only his self-portrait sketch (below), but also his amazing SF Book Club edition cover painting for Niven and Barnes book, Dream Park. In Ochagavia’s painting (below the fold), what a fantastic and amusingly surreal dragon the anonymous hero is fighting!

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The Illuminatus! Mystery of Carlos Victor

One thing that has baffled me for many years is the identity of the artist who painted the original covers of the Illuminatus! paperbacks, which were published by Dell in 1975. The signature, clear as day, reads: “Carlos Victor“, but I have never encountered any artist of that name in any reference. Wikipedia credits all the paintings to this mysterious artist. So let me say it first here: the identity of Carlos Victor is almost certainly the wonderful painter Carlos Ochagavia!

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The Moody Palettes of Lou Feck

At first glance the dark palettes and almost monochrome scenes painted by Lou Feck seem rather low key. Compared to the startling palettes of his contemporaries in the late 1960s and early 1970s, you’d think that Feck was either taking a lot of downers or painting with deliberate understatement. Yet the more I look at his cover paintings, the more I am convinced that Feck was using a masterful and subtle style.

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Gobsmacked by Sinclair

Completely gobsmacked by this painting up for auction at Heritage, I wondered who the artist was. None other than Irving Sinclar (1895-1969), who was apparently a well-known portrait and commercial artist beginning in the 1930s. According to the SF Chronicle (24 Feb 1969): “Born in British Columbia on March 5, 1895. After settling in San Francisco in 1917, Sinclair worked as a billboard artist for Foster & Kleiser, and in the 1920s was art director for Fox West Coast Theatres. In 1939 he studied in New York under Wayman Adams. San Francisco remained his adopted home where he painted Mayors Rossi, Robinson, and Christopher. He became well known for portraits of Hollywood stars and other famous Americans including F. D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Summers were often spent in Canada in his Galiano Island studio. Sinclair died in San Francisco on Feb. 21, 1969.” With such an interesting resumé, I thought that there should be plenty of material online about the artist. However, if Google is to be believed, Sinclair is primarily known for this realistic painting called “The Poker Game.” It’s a nice painting, to be sure, though it might have been done by Norman Rockwell, who could never have painted the bold figurative portraits in the Heritage lot. Where the Poker Game excels in muted detail, the portrait thrives in electric, almost psychedelic colors…if you view the large resolution version at the Heritage link (above), you will see the bold, effortless brushwork. As if dashed off in a hurry, the portrait sings with fervent, nervous energy…I’m gobsmacked by that blue and orange, I tell you!

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Surreal SF art of Carlos Ochagavia

This beautiful illustration for the cover of Daughter of IS (1978), by Mikal D. Huber, is a wonderful example of the science fiction art of Carlos Ochagavia. The background is rendered in a light, airy tone that fades away, with major features that become transparent (in this case, a moon) . The main figure is also somewhat soft — a woman rising up in cloud — while the most tangible figure in the painting (a hand on fire!) is disembodied. In the middle distance are Ochagavia’s characteristic space-vehicles, usually saucers standing on chunky legs, and arcing behind the scene is a jet that leaves a visible trail. The image, as a whole, is strangely ethereal; is it a realistic painting, softened at the edges? Or a surrealistic painting, with a few concrete objects for our gaze to anchor upon? Ochagavia tantalizes us to find out…but often as not, the books being illustrated hold few clues as to what the artist was thinking.