The High Fidelity Art of Jim Flora. It features all of Flora's known album and EP covers (including back cover illustrations) from 1947 to 1961 for Columbia, RCA Victor, and their affiliated labels, along with music-themed fine art works, illustrations, and sketches. The book was completed last week and will head shortly to the printer. (Despite what it says at Amazon, the publication date will be sometime in August, not June 30. We dawdled a bit.)
As was the case with the previous three Flora anthologies, The High Fidelity Art was compiled and authored by Irwin Chusid and Barbara Economon, designed by Laura Lindgren, and published by Fantagraphics.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Friday, February 15, 2013
There's been little Florablogging in recent months. Not for lack of interest, certainly not for lack of fresh material. We could post something new every day for the next five years and still retain a cache of surprises. A few years ago we discovered a sketch album that contained 225 (artist-clipped and glued-in) pencil and ink drawings from the 1940s, very few of which were subsequently published or posted. That album alone could carry us through seven and a half months of daily posts.
Blogging neglect aside, we've been at work compiling, writing and editing our fourth Flora compendium to be published by Fantagraphics. The focus this time will be the artist's love of MUSIC.
Our first book, The Mischievous Art of Jim Flora (2004), featured Flora's known album covers. (No complete discography existed.) Since that book's publication, more vintage covers have been found, as well as the artist's rough drafts and rejected designs. The Mischievous Art ... went through two editions, but is now out of print, highly sought and available only at high prices through rare-book sellers. So we decided to compile a complete collection of Flora record covers (including recent discoveries) and unpublished sketches in one volume, augmented by music images not included in previous volumes. The High Fidelity Art of Jim Flora will be the definitive anthology of the maestro's visual compositions, reflecting jazz, classical, and Latin music. Regarding his jam-packed canvases Flora once said he "couldn't stand a static space." There's nothing static about the images in The High Fidelity Art: they wail, dance, bounce, and swing from the chandeliers. They hit notes that shatter glass. This is art to which you can tap your toes and snap your fingers. Flora had a knack for grooving with a paintbrush.
The book will feature a 1998 interview with Flora which I conducted at his home on Bell Island, in Rowayton CT, just a few months before he passed away from stomach cancer. The interview has not been previously published.
The book is scheduled to reach market in August 2013. Barbara Economon and I have provided the contents, and Laura Lindgren expertly designed it—the same team as the first three Flora anthologies. It's currently in the final layout stages.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Behind the card sits a demo of Takashi's forthcoming Raymond Scott Songbook, a 2-cd collection of rare Scott archival recordings and new cover versions by a variety of artists. Positioned to the right is a figurine of Raymond Scott, manufactured by PressPop of Japan in commemoration of the Scott centennial in 2008.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Friday, November 9, 2012
email to inquire.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
NEW: the Jim Flora Big Bank Robbery wooden jigsaw puzzle by Artifact Puzzles. This 302-piece work features a mischievous and colorful 1960s Flora painting. The puzzle, which measures 10.5" x 16", was laser-cut from 1/4" thick wood and comes packaged in a pinewood case.
The irregular edges of each puzzle piece were inspired by Flora's art and themed to the image by puzzle artist Tara Flannery.
The Big Bank Robbery has long been available as a fine art print in a limited edition of 30, but only three prints remain. The work was first published in our second book, The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora (2007).
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Friday, July 6, 2012
Illustration detail, "What is Automation," Collier's magazine, March 16, 1956. The optimistic take: "Automation has been heralded by some as the threshold to a new Utopia, in which robots do all the work while human drones recline in pneumatic bliss." There was a counterbalancing pessimistic view, but in observance of the current summer heat wave, we'll stick with the sunshinier forecast.
We're still looking forward to consumer helicopters with open-air cockpits.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
P.S. This non sequitur works too. Illustration from The Fabulous Firework Family, Flora's first (1955) children's book.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
"I think of Flora as the Picasso of Jazz; his other-worldly depictions of Jazz musicians capture perfectly the vibe of a certain era of the music—brash, swingin' and full of ecstatic movement. There's another side to Flora as well. If you look closely at his LP illustrations, beyond the exciting flash, you see a cunning method to his cartoonish madness."
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke (1903-1931)
Today is the 109th birthday of Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke, an American "hot jazz" legend who's been dead for 81 of those years. Bix was an alcoholic who never took a legal drink in his life. He was underage when Prohibition commenced in 1919, and died before it was repealed in 1933.
Jim Flora, who loved jazz, rendered a caricature of this revered cornetist on a 1947 Columbia Records 4-disc set. Last week we issued a limited edition fine art print of the illustration. Despite his brief, sordid life, Beiderbecke was one of the most influential musicians of the 1920s, the only decade commonly identified with a specific strain of music — "The Jazz Age." Bix lived it, and helped define it.
P.S. Bix and Flora also helped define this man's arm:
Photo: Julie Belcher/Yee-Haw Industries
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Today we launch a new limited edition fine art print of a classic mid-century Flora album cover. Bix and Tram was one of the artist's earliest record sleeve illustrations, issued by Columbia in 1947 on a 78 rpm 4-disc set. The cover features outlandish caricatures of two legendary bandmates from the 1920s "hot jazz" scene: cornetist Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke and saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer.
Despite what appear to be mutant facial and cranial features, in fact these figures look exactly like Bix and Tram! Bix was scarlet-complexioned due to his overindulgence of bathtub gin, and Trumbauer was green from showering in money. Little-known historical facts. No need to thank us. Come back often.
The work has been issued in a limited edition run of 25 hand-numbered prints. Prices will increase as the edition sells down.
Monday, March 5, 2012
Thursday, December 15, 2011
untitled tempera, early 1940sFlora biographer/archivist me (Irwin Chusid) will present an informal talk about the artist's life, accompanied by digital projection of over 100 spectacular works from the Flora collection on Saturday, December 17, at Dorian Grey Gallery, New York. The wine begins pouring into cheap plastic cups at 4:00 pm, with the presentation starting at 5:00 pm sharp. Admission is free, but seating is limited, so arrive early. The event concludes around 7:00 pm.
The Dorian Grey Gallery, located at 437 East 9th Street (between 1st and A), is hosting The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora, the first posthumous New York exhibit and sale of Jim Flora original art and prints. The exhibit opened on Nov. 19 and runs thru Jan. 8.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
New York Times reviews Enchanted Lion Books' new reprint of Flora's Kangaroo for Christmas:
Kangaroo for Christmas offered joy of an entirely different sort to the Sallys and Bobbys of the Mad Men era. First published in 1962, the story of little Kathryn’s astonishing gift from her Uncle Dingo showcases the marvelous period illustration of James Flora, a giant among midcentury commercial artists. Working in riotous bursts of carnation pink and deep teal, Flora adds visual pop to an off-kilter story that hardly needs it, but is gloriously zanier for it all the same.
Monday, November 14, 2011
The Dorian Grey Gallery will host The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora, the first posthumous New York exhibit and sale of Jim Flora original art and prints. The exhibit opens with a reception on Nov. 19, and runs thru Jan. 8.
The gallery, located at 437 East 9th Street (between 1st and A), will showcase significant works from the Flora family collection, covering the 1940s to the late 1990s. Offerings include temperas on paper; woodcut prints (vintage and new); medium and large acrylics on canvas; pen & ink drawings on paper; fine art and screen prints, and branded Flora paper merchandise. Many exhibited works have not been previously published in our three Fantagraphics anthologies.
The above exhibit promo art (by Laura Lindgren, our Flora book designer) will be issued as a limited edition of 25 numbered fine art prints through Dorian Grey.
The exhibit is curated by yours truly, in conjunction with gallery owner Luis Accorsi and director Christopher Pusey. The Nov. 19 reception will include a live music set by the Cracked Latin trio, featuring vocalist Accorsi along with guitarist/vocalist Lane Steinberg and percussionist Charlie Zeleny.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Those perennial favorite Jim Flora calendars are in stock for 2012. You've got your bug-eyed saxophonist, an Aren't-We-Having-Fun? moon, and a manic drummer to guide you through the coming Leap Year. These are hand-printed mini-calendars measuring 10" x 4-1/2". If you prefer something of greater magnitude in a maritime motif, our Sheffield Island poster-sized calendar should suit your tastes:
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Friend (and WFMU colleague) Therese Mahler joined us for an archiving visit to (what we call) the "Floratorium" (Norwalk CT storage space) in September 2008. Therese poses with a 1997 acrylic on canvas entitled Queztlcoatl Returns, rendered the year before Flora's passing. The work was first featured on this blog in January 2008 and reproduced in our third anthology, The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora, the only Flora compendium still in print.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
These two tempera with pencil illustrations, differently titled yet seemingly related, were discovered in a mid-1960s Flora sketchpad pages apart. Both have a completed look, yet no discernible (or documented) purpose. Well-Fed At Last is signed, which indicates the artist considered the work finished and fit to behold. The alligator has a vicious or peeved demeanor. He has no love.
Local Government or the Commuter is unsigned, but has the added element of a homo sapien entree (moments before the dessert menu). Absent a context, the title appears to make no sense. Oddly, the alligator, who appears more satisfied than his above cousin, has one mismatched foot. His satisfaction no doubt derives from his happy meal.