Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Big Bank Robbery (edition)

Just released: a new Flora fine art print. The Big Bank Robbery (edition of 30) was reproduced from an undated tempera on board that reflects the nuances of Flora's mid-1960s style. (The title was handwritten on the reverse.) The three-tiered tableau depicts colorful Flora mayhem: inscrutable monsters with misshapen features, Lego architecture, bug-eyed buildings, gumdrop color fills, and—yes—a bank robbery.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

fanfare for the common maniac

Seriously—you'd have to be crazy to play trumpet in this position. You can't possibly concentrate on your playing. Hopping on one foot, using your left hand to work the horn and the right to tip your hat. You might be an entertaining showman, but from a musical standpoint, this is a caricature of a trumpet player. Seriously.

Detail from Flora illustration for The Great Juke, a short story by Marguerite Young, Mademoiselle magazine, October 1947. This was the third story Flora illustrated for the popular women's monthly. The full illustration appeared in our second book, The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora.

Monday, June 22, 2009

how to improve your bottom line

Spot illustration, Columbia Coda, December 1945

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

peek skills

This cutaway view of a cruise ship affords a glimpse into cabin and deck activities—some naughty, some nice. The undated, unpublished pen & ink on tablet paper probably dates from Flora's "late ship period" around 1988-90, when he was transitioning away from maritime motifs and back to music, architecture, portraits, and landscapes. His large acrylic ship canvases rendered during the 1980s were more lifelike than the cartoonish styles for which he'd been renowned as a commercial illustrator. The untitled work above is a return to form of sorts, although it's not what we'd consider a top-tier effort. (The thumbnail is minuscule; click on image to enlarge.)

Flora produced countless cutaway-view paintings and drawings of ships and buildings (and a handful of humans) over the years. It was a recurring motif in his fine art and in his commercial assignments. Previous examples can be viewed here. A wonderful (and violent) early 1950s tempera tableau we've issued as a fine art print exhibits the same structural voyeurism.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

female trouble

We're not sure what this commercial illustration (ca. 1960) was intended to depict, because we don't know the nature of the assignment or the client. Rather than impose a narrative, click on thumbnail to view enlarged image, create your own storyline, and post it in the Comments. If you happen to have a magazine tearsheet of this illo, please advise so we can settle all arguments before things get out of hand (which is, actually, what the scene above depicts).

Update: Mystery solved: see comment #5. Source: Parade magazine, May 25, 1958.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Flora exhibit at A-D Gallery, New York

If you're planning to attend the above June 10 exhibityou're 66 years too late. However, by historical accounts Flora's first New York City gallery show, held in 1943, was fabulously successful.

A few months earlier, Flora had been named art director at Columbia Records, replacing the man who hired him, Alex Steinweiss (at left with the artist in photo below). The whereabouts of the inscrutable petroglyphs on the wall? All will be revealed in our forthcoming book, The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora, scheduled for August publication by Fantagraphics.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Venice to Rome (pt. 2)

Tempera and pencil on paper, early 1960s. Another element of a large (16-1⁄2" x 13-3⁄4") work partially glimpsed here, and fully revealed in our forthcoming omnibus, The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora. Above detail represents about one-sixth of the complete work.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sweet, diabolic, done

An advance copy of our forthcoming third Flora anthology was delivered yesterday via FedEx courier from the printer. It's quite lovely (the book, not the courier or the printer) and brimming with visual mischief. A street date has been announced by the publisher, Fantagraphics: first week of August. The book can be pre-ordered from now.

Sweetly Diabolic
features hundreds of rare and previously unpublished images from the Flora archives. The cover was designed by the godlike Laura Lindgren. It's the same size (10" x 11"; 180 pages) as our previous volumes (TMA and TCSA), and as a bookshelf companion will require just an additional 3/8" of spine space.