Saturday, February 27, 2010

ship and helmsman

Untitled, undated, unfinished ship and helmsman sketches; tempera and pencil in sketchbook. These drafts, which probably date from the early to mid-1950s, are juxtaposed on the page as shown.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

pretzel machine

Pretzel-making machine, spot illustration, Research & Engineering magazine, September 1955, marking Flora's debut in this short-lived monthly. The cover art is credited and the interior illos unmistakably reflect his whimsy, but no art director is listed in the masthead. Starting with the combined October/November issue Flora is ID'ed as art director, a position he held thru August 1956. An extensive gallery of Flora covers and interior illustrations from R&E was reproduced in The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

chamber trio with angel

Illustration, Table of Contents page
Columbia Records Disc Digest, February 1946

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Perils of Overexuberance

Acrylic on canvas (20" x 16"), mid-1990s, one of countless unpublished and previously uncirculated (and mischievous and unfathomable) late-life works in the Flora archives.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Where Will It All End?

Quadruped of indeterminate zoological origin; detail, Where Will It All End?, tempera on paper (1993). The full work, previously unpublished, was reproduced in The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora (page 66). The rest of the painting is no less disconcerting.

Flora was 79 at the time. Many of his 1990s works betray a wobbly hand. Bold ideas continued to flow from the artist's hallucinatory imagination, but the brushwork was less meticulous than in previous decades.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

happy flower

Spot illustration, Portrait of a Great American, a 1943 CBS radio trade circular about singer Kate Smith's prowess raising money for war bonds. Most of the booklet's illustrations were reproduced in The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora, but this perky flower was omitted.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bijou (sketch)

Pencil sketch from the mid-1990s of a cryptic tableau later rendered as a tempera on paper entitled Bijou. The painting retained most elements and positioning, with minor changes. The cloud was omitted, the plane enlarged, and the vertical theater marquee which reads "Adelaid" was renamed "Bijou." The painting is unpublished and uncirculated, and will be reproduced in a future anthology.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Skittish Horse

Tempera on paper, mid-1960s. The previously unpublished work was reproduced in our second book, The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora. It's on our short list to issue as a fine art print.

Friday, February 5, 2010

frame job

Our Jim Flora "Plant You Now, Dig You Later" letterpress notecards are multi-purpose. One customer (whose name, forgive us, we've misplaced) had these 1950s jazz hepcats framed and sent us a snapshot. Others have used them as ... notecards.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Charlie Yup and pals

Detail from Flora's third children's book, Charlie Yup and His Snip-Snap Boys (1959). Charlie, who wields a mean scissors (his "Snip-Snap Boys" are paper cut-outs), is in the upper left astride Beezer, his "helicopter horse."

For fans—like us—of Flora's 1950s big-eyed figures, this was the end of the line, his last satisfying children's book on an artistic level. He wrote and illustrated 14 more, which sold well and charmed generations of young readers. But our favorites remain the first three (Fabulous Firework Family, The Day the Cow Sneezed, and Charlie Yup), all produced during the 1950s. His next book, Leopold the See-Through Crumbpicker, published in 1961, showcased an entirely different style of character illustration.

Charlie Yup is the rarest of Flora's books. It rarely turns up on Ebay or with antiquarian book dealers—and when it does, the price is lofty.