Sunday, May 30, 2010

Benny Goodman @ 101

Jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman, as portrayed by Flora for the March 1952 issue of Columbia's monthly Coda new release booklet. Goodman was a founding father of the mid-1930s jazz big band ("swing") style—launched in force after he hired arranger Fletcher Henderson in 1935.

As he matured, he performed and recorded classical repertoire; the above figures illustrated Coda's preview of Goodman's recording (with the American Art Quartet) of Mozart's Quintet for Clarinet and Strings.

Flora was a fan of Goodman, and rendered him many times for Columbia and RCA Victor releases and promotional material. Asked about his encounters with the jazz musicians he illustrated, Flora told me (in 1998):
I didn't get to know many of them intimately. Benny Goodman I knew better than any of them. I did some photographic sessions with Benny. He was always difficult to get along with, but I never had any problems.
Goodman was born this day in 1909.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Charlie Yup (endpapers)

Left half of endpaper, Charlie Yup and His Snip-Snap Boys, Flora's third children's book, published in 1959. This seems to be the rarest of Flora's out-of-print kid-lit. Antiquarian book dealers ask three figures for used copies. This book also betokens the end of Flora's classic, edgy 1950s commercial illustration style, which became tamer in the 1960s.

Friday, May 21, 2010

unfinished dancers

Unfinished pencil and tempera sketch, ca. 1950-51 (Flora's Mexican sojourn), found in artist's notebook. There's no evidence the work was refined or adapted for any other purpose. The ghost image in the background is the bleedthrough of a series of figures on the reverse.

The left figure above has some female attributes, the right some vague echoes of manhood. Regarding the lady, we won't speculate on what's protruding from her butt or clustered in her belly, nor will we venture an opinion on the chopsticks positioned in her crotch.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Woody Herman

Bandleader/clarinetist Woodrow Charles "Woody" Herman (1913-1987) rendered by Flora in the June 1946 issue of Columbia Records Disc Digest. Flora used alternating-color patterns throughout his career (see examples here, here and here). Because he was partly color-blind, skin tints were irrelevant.

Herman was born today 97 years ago (less than a year before Flora).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mardi Gras Quartet

Yesterday we (officially) launched our latest limited edition screen print series, Mardi Gras Quartet. (They've been "unofficially" available on our website for months.) Based on an early 1950s series painted by Flora while living in Mexico, each print is identical except for color scheme. The original four variants, along with sketches and figure studies (displayed at the bottom of the linked print page), were reproduced in our second book, The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora (2007).

The Mardi Gras screen prints were produced in a limited edition of 125 each by Minneapolis print/design studio Aesthetic Apparatus, working from Flora archivist Barbara Economon's digitally restored and color-proofed high-resolution scan of the original art (tempera on artist board).

Each of the four prints can be purchased individually ($30/ea.), in multiple combinations, or as a full set ($100). Prices will increase for subsequent prints as the edition depletes.

Friday, May 7, 2010

food chain 2

Detail, Sherwood Walks Home, Flora's eighth children's book, 1966. We won't reveal the outcome, but we suspect the cat is the most determined diner.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

science geek 4

Untitled acrylic on board, ca. mid-1960s. This modular work echoes illustrations Flora provided for the covers of Computer Design magazine during the 1960s and '70s. We've yet to determine whether this painting or an adaptation actually graced a CD cover. If not, this blog post might represent its first public exposure (we haven't reproduced this work in any of our Flora anthologies to date).

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fresh ink and Flora tattoo #2

Some people dedicate their bodies to science. Shannon Wade, of Portland OR, dedicates hers to the art of Jim Flora. Not the first time, either.

The above distended figure originally appeared on the title page of GUP, a 1942 Little Man Press publication written by Robert Lowry and illustrated by Flora.