Thursday, August 20, 2009

piano variations

A draft and a refinement of a common theme. This barrelhouse piano player was roughly rendered for a series of demo booklets the Cincinnati-based Flora crafted in 1941 as a job pitch:

"Columbia Records was reissuing old jazz records without much fanfare," the artist (and jazz aficionado) later wrote. "I had the temerity to make these small booklets to try to point out the error of their ways." His temerity paid off. In early 1942 Flora was hired by Columbia's art department, and he relocated to Connecticut with his wife Jane. Within a year, the record label promoted him to Art Director.

The refined version was a woodcut, untitled and undated:

The mannequin-like patrons are gone, but the mug on the piano lid abides. The original wood block for this work has not been located. The print belongs to the University of Virginia Library Special Collections as part of a quartet of impressions in a folio entitled James Flora Wood Cuts. The three other works in the folio exist in the Flora family collection and date from 1940-41.

The top image was reproduced along with the demo booklets in The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora; the bottom work was reproduced in our just-published The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora.

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